1) Sit at your desk. Squirm around a little until you find a writerly pose, the one you’ll be sitting in when you begin your Next Big Story.
2) Turn the computer on. While it boots up, get up and walk around your room. Poke at books you’ve read and embarrassingly ignore those you haven’t. Walk to the window and watch people outside. “They’re not writers—ha!” you think. “There’s no way a self-respecting writer would be anywhere besides her desk at this hour.”
3) Walk into the kitchen and get a bowl of cereal. Sit at the table (in a newspaper reading pose) for about 10 minutes, until you’re absolutely sure that when you get back to your desk, your computer will be totally ready and give you a high five for sitting down for a day’s work.
4) Go back to your computer. It’s up and running.
5) Smash the keyboard with your fingers for about 35 minutes. Dismayed with your lack of good ideas and talent, get up from the desk and lie on the floor.
6) Bemoan the fact that you’ve been chosen to be a writer and that if you even tried to do anything besides write, you’d be in for a life of discontent and unrealized dreams. Pound the floor three times for effect. Your downstairs neighbors will appreciate this.
7) Get up.
8) Sit in your chair. Assume a new writerly pose.
9) Carefully pick out words on the keyboard. Soon, you will have one good sentence.
10) You have one good sentence!
11) In celebration, go and reward yourself by getting the mail in the sunshine. You needed a break anyway, that was hard.
12) Open your mail on your front stoop. Bill, bill, rejection letter, rejection letter, card from Grandma with five dollars in it. Five dollars!
13) Go back inside and assume writerly pose again. This One Good Sentence is going to need some company. No time for mail celebration! It’s time to write!
14) Feverishly tick out words for the next two hours. Make your pinky work extra hard on the “backspace key.” At the end of these two hours, your pinky will be quite sore and your sunny disposition will be deleted just like your shitty partner sentences. Your One Good Sentence may have to get used to the idea of being alone for a while.
15) Get up and walk around the house. Check to make sure the laundry room is still there, that the garbage bins out back haven’t been stolen, see that it’s still daylight. No, it’s not time for lunch. Dammit.
16) Sit back down. Take out some paper. Maybe things will flow better on a good ol’ piece of parchment.
17) They don’t. Throw the paper away in the trash bin. You do. No! You never completely get rid of any piece of writing. It’s all part of the process and you’re a big believer in the process. One day, after you’ve written your Next Big Story, you’ll look at this piece of paper as a building block for all that you’ve accomplished and you’ll be so glad you saved it.
18) Take the paper out of the trash bin and smooth it out. Hell, tack it up on the wall, see what that does for you.
19) Stare at your One Good Sentence. Glare at your One Good Sentence. What did it ever do for you? Fuck your One Good Sentence.
20) Go for a walk. You need some space. The One Good Sentence just thinks it can rule your life? Absolutely not. Walk to the farmers’ market and indignantly buy some seasonal vegetables.
21) Go back to your One Good Sentence. You were right—it’s a pretty damn good sentence. It may even be a springboard for an ok story. You don’t even bother to put away the seasonal vegetables on the counter. You’ve abandoned them in the doorway, and they can see you at your desk, hunched over in any sort of pose, tapping away quickly at our computer. The light outside fades, no one steals the garbage bins. After a while and 4,000 words, you look up and it’s after five o’clock. Your working day is officially over, but you sit hunched over your computer like someone who loves what she does and someone who wants to get better at it. You don’t get up for the next few hours. When you do, you close your computer, turn off the light, take your vegetables into the kitchen and make dinner. You don’t even bother to check if someone has or has not stolen the garbage bins out back. You’re a writer, not a detective.
22) Eat dinner.
23) Be proud of your One Good Sentence and all its friends.