Being in the Present
After a while, every writer learns to live in the present. There's really no other way to live and breathe and produce work that has any meaning. You'd be surprised how tough it is to get to the present. The past intrudes and barks at you, rearing its head and reminding you of what you didn't do, or could've done but didn't. The future looks at you in the eye of the mirror and wonders what you'll become. Are you good enough? Writing, when it's good, is pure present, a kind of hello between right brain and left brain, between thinking and feeling.
Kerouac wrote spontaneously, fueled by vast quantities of drugs, mostly uppers to keep the adrenaline flow going. He turned out an amazing body of work, notably On the Road, then collapsed and died of a heart attack at the age of 47. Not good.
Kesey apparently wrote the opening of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest on peyote or LSD. Then he wrote a second novel, Sometimes a Great Notion, which was largely autobiographical and traditional, but beautifully realized. Then he returned home to his roots on the Creamery Farm in Eugene, Oregon, and went to seed. He could've written the Novel of the Sixties, but Tom Wolfe wrote it for him. He was lucky.
What happens to American writers, anyway? They look large at first, have some success or not, then become writers, rather than being creative men or women with a gift for writing. There's the writer, and then there's the man or woman, the person, the person being in the present, living and breathing language, for words are all we've got and all we'll ever have.
Trust the first draft. Allow the work to shape itself. Until you get that first draft, you've got nothing.
Ask the critic to sit outside the room where you write.
When you step out the door and jump into your car and drive down the freeway of life, look for things you haven't seen before. You'll see them and write about them.
Avoid any notion of HIGH CONCEPT. Walk out of the room when somebody mentions the phrase.
Try not to go where you've been before.
Past is present is future.