Every once in a while you come upon a realization so profound, so enlightening, that you simply have to share it with the world. I won’t tell you what I was doing when I thought of this one, but it wasn’t badminton.
1. You have to consume to produce. This is a basic principle of the conservation of energy, or some other really complicated physics-biology relationship. You have to eat to poop, otherwise you’re just going to make uncomfortable noises and get really tired for no real gain. In order to produce good fiction, you should probably be reading good fiction. That isn’t to say that you can’t write if you don’t read, only that if you try to produce without consuming you’re mostly going to eject parts of your intestinal wall. That is, it probably won’t be worth reading. You don’t necessarily have to read in the genre you write, either – you should probably consume a wide variety of entertainment. You should ALSO consume things that are not entertainment. Travel. Go on a hike. Go take a class in being a farrier. Variety, I think, is key. After all, we all know what happens when you only eat a lot of corn.
Pro tip – if you find yourself ejecting parts of your intestinal wall while writing, you may have an unrelated problem for which you should seek immediate medical assistance and a mop.
2. Don’t force it. Seriously, you’re going to pop a blood vessel if you keep doing that. Now, don’t confuse “forcing it” with “effort.” You need effort to produce fiction. In fact, some times you need a lot of effort to produce it. It’ll feel terrible, maybe for a little while, while you work through your process and smooth things over. But trying to pass a Hellfire missile through your colon before it’s had time to break down is a bad idea (why did you eat a missile?). Be patient with yourself, and know when you’re trying something maybe you’re not ready for yet. If you’ve spend the last five years agonizing through an epic fantasy, maybe try something else.
Pro tip – coffee helps, but I’ll let you (privately) decide which it helps more – pooping or writing.
3. Afterwards, it’s important to wash. You don’t just finish pooping and hop off the toilet to go make mousse. If you do, please stop – seriously there’s a sign in every public restroom you’ve ever been in, most of the time in multiple languages. You should also take that approach with your writing. When you’re done with a project, take the time to wash your hands of it for a little bit before you go back and edit. Maybe even start on a new project. But, most of the time I find it’s good to put it down for a few days (or a month) and wait until I’m ready to go back to it.
Pro tip – don’t not poop for a month, the relationship I’m describing here isn’t that close.
4. Your whole-being health is important to the outcome. There’s (hopefully, unless you’re really miserable) more to life than pooping, and there’s more to life than writing. But sometimes, people who normally have incredible poops get constipated, or, on the other end of the spectrum, fire off that really embarrassing machine gun noise in the public bathroom. (RATATATATAT). Nutrition is important, but so is everything else. If you’re having a mental breakdown every time you sit down at the keyboard because you’re so stressed from everything else in your life, maybe it’s time to sit back and re-assess your life before you try to dive into something that is as wholly demanding as writing. Yeah, I know most of the great artists, writers, etc, were out of their godddamn minds, but maybe slicing off your own ear isn’t something you should aspire to.
Pro tip – you’re not fooling anyone. I can still hear Mozart’s First Butt Symphony behind that fake cough you just did.
5. Sometimes, it’s okay to do it with the door open. Writing (and pooping) is a very solitary sort of thing. People spend hours and hours in their basements or bathrooms, channeling their introversion and producing some of the finest works of art the world has ever seen. But it’s important not to do it in a vacuum. First of all, you’ll absolutely ruin the vacuum and make a really disgusting mess. Second, writing is a form of communication. It’s something that you probably, at some level, think is important to share with the world. So, every once in a while, poop with the door open. Let someone see and critique your beautiful creation, take a picture, and…oh god, what have I done? Please don’t do any of that.