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How work gets done. Around here, anyway.

October 3, 2013

CatchReleaseCoverA week or so ago I started a short story, and I put in a few hours here and there, and it’s coming along well enough. I figure another week or two should see it through to the end.

But it seems to have hit…well, not exactly a snag, but for the past few days I’ve been sitting down at my desk first thing each morning, whereupon I open the file and look at the story, and then I go and Do Other Things. All of this, I have learned over the years, is part of what we like to call the Creative Process. The subconscious is busy mulling things over, and in due time the results will show up on the computer screen.

But not just yet…

Today, for example, I opened the file and promptly closed the file, and then I cleared a ton of email, tended to my tweeting and facebooking, updated my agent on an editing project that’s in the works, booked a phone conversation with another party to discuss that project, and came up with a couple of good ideas for additional projects. And in the course of all of this, I came to a seminal conclusion.

A conclusion I’ll happily share with you: Nothing so spurs one’s creative energy as the need to avoid essential work. In fact I suspect most of the world’s most important work has been done by people who’ve had other things they know in their hearts they really ought to be doing.

Why else, really, would I clean the crud out from between the keys of my computer keyboard? Or arrange my books in alphabetical order?

Or write blog posts like this one?

Well, not all the work that gets done this way is useful or important, as you can see. But it’s my pleasure to share it with you. And, in order to better justify it to myself, and to deftly split an infinitive, I’ll add these useful links which will enable you, wherever you may be, to waste some time with the eBook or paperback of Catch and Release in what I trust will be a pleasant and perhaps even useful fashion: Barnes & Noble Smashwords Kobo

United Kingdom France Germany Brazil Mexico Spain Japan Italy India Canada

Look at that, will you? Aren’t you impressed that you can order this wonderful book almost anywhere in the world? And do you have any idea how much time it takes to gather up and post all those links?

You can thank me later…


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  1. I would call this blog post perfectly timed. I’m sitting here staring at my open document and notes for :The Shade” – Episode 3 (a noir-style series I’m publishing in episodes — #1 and #2 are together in a single ebook at Amazon). And I keep finding all these other things to do. When I should get off my ass (or rather sit my ass down and focus on episode 3). Now I’ll attribute my ‘hemmms and hawws’ stalling… to the creative process. I’m going to finish the draft of episode three today. Just as soon as I order your “Catch and Release”.

    Done with one click! Now to work.

  2. Oh, how this blog post stings (and goads me to get to work). I need to be writing. And yet today I’ve gone to the Post Office, taken a walk, answered a bunch of emails, spent some time on Facebook, and then read a number of blogs–including this one. Thanks for making me apply posterior to chair and get back to the productive stuff.

  3. But I like the part of my job where I have to ride my bike around to bookstores on a lovely Indian Summer day!

  4. Reblogged this on heatherzhutchinswrites and commented:
    Hey Gang: Here’s a great post from Larry Block. As all my writing students know, I have to quote him three or four times a night or I’m not doing my job. He RULES in my genre–and just in general.

    • Heather, thanks so much! And please feel free to reblog anything you find on this site.

      • Any chance, Sir, that you could blog on your APPLES AND ORANGES column from back in the day at Writer’s Digest? I used to have a copy pasted at my desk, but the text is unreadable now. I keep wanting to print it out for my writing students.

  5. Slappy permalink

    “Look at the story, then go & do other things…” I’ve spent 29 years building a very successful career operating like this every day, and every day saying tomorrow will be different. Today I left my office at 2 p.m. Because it’s sunny out and I’d rather sit on my porch and read a book…tomorrow will be another reason… The moral of the story? Not sure…but life is short.

  6. Heather, I’d reprint it if I had it in electronic form, but it was written bacj in the typewriter era. You can find it—in print or eBook—in Spider, Spin Me a Web, readily available at Amazon or B&N.

  7. Levin Messick permalink

    Being semi-retired when I am not part time teaching I often spend time outdoors in the sunshine looking at birds and other critters. I also like to read. and I must say that I would read a lot more of an author named Block, if we could just get you to write 24-7. But then you would not be so incredibly good would you? Take your time, the empty well will refill and we will have more great stories!

    • Thanks, Levin. And you’ll have something new before the end of the year, which I’ll be announcing before the end of the month…

  8. Cathy permalink

    Guess this is good as place as any to say I just finished When the Sacred Ginmill Closes and giving it five stars on when I write my review in the am (that’s the plan, anyway.)

    Should have won every award in the book…it was excellent and so much fun to read. Some great quotes, too.

    One of my favorite Matthew Scudder series thus far, reading them in order. Can’t wait for next one.

    Excellent, just excellent. Congratulations to writer Mr. Lawrence Block!

  9. juliabarrett permalink

    I’m thanking you now. Regardless of how often you procrastinate, or get those creative juices circulating, you are still the most prolific writer I know. And now when I go out to play basketball instead of staring at my WIP I can say – the great Lawrence Block told me to do it.

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