UPDATE: The legendary Anne Lamott is raising donations for the Obama campaign. She and her hordes have already raised over $70,000, exceeding her original goal of $10,000 by—let’s see, that would be—seven times over.
And you can join her! Please do.
Never doubt that thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.—Margaret Mead
Now, as far as genius, you think I’m going to say, “Shut up and write,” don’t you? But unfortunately that won’t make you a genius. It won’t even make you a writer. That will only make you a scribbler, which isn’t a bad thing to be, at all. . .but it’s not the same thing. We’ve talked about 2 Tricks for Breaking Writer’s Block in One Day. And 3 Tricks for Ratcheting Tension in One Day. And 4 Tricks for Improving Your Fiction in One Day.
So now I’ll reveal the real secret to becoming a genius, particularly a genius writer. Pay close attention.
Realize what exactly genius is
What do you mean by, “becoming a genius”?
Do you mean, “having extraordinary intelligence granted to me without me lifting a pinky”?
Do you mean, “being recognized by the smartest people on earth”?
Do you mean, “relishing every spec of living I possibly can in the few fleeting years granted to me on this planet—years I see flashing past me more and more quickly the older I get—because, baby, we’re none of us getting any younger”?
Extraordinary intelligence doesn’t come to anyone without them lifting a pinky.
Extraordinary intelligence is developed by the constant creative use of the the brain. How much of your time do you spend using your brain creatively—developing your skills with logic and critical analysis of the things that truly matter to you, using all five senses to perceive your moment-by-moment experience of life to the fullest capacity, asking not just, “What do I think or believe or feel?” but, “What do I think and believe and feel that I would never have guessed about myself?”
Do you have the courage to face your disowned self? Honestly, truly face it?
Eight hours of that will ratchet your genius for human understanding—the core of all storytelling—through the ceiling.
Being recognized by the smartest people on earth involves being seen by them.
And on an increasingly crowded planet, that means not getting the attention of those recognized in the media—how smart could Charlie Sheen be anyway?—but finding the unrecognized geniuses who walk among us every day and devoting yourself to learning what they know. Apprenticing yourself to them. Earning their recognition.
Would Einstein have been as smart if nobody had ever heard of him? Yes. Was Franz Kafka a great literary and philosophical genius even though he died before anyone ever found out? Yes.
Who can you identify in your life right now who’s one of the smartest people on earth?
Eight hours of listening at their knee will teach you the secret uniqueness—the core of all memorable storytelling—of their genius.
Relishing every spec of living you possibly can in the fleeting years granted you starts right now.
Let me tell you a story, okay?
My husband and I spent this weekend working on our house, even though we burned ourselves out on it so badly when we built it four years ago that we’re still content to live with subfloor on the stairs and big, gaping holes for lag bolts in the hall floor and cracks you can see light through where there’s supposed to be trim.
We really hate working on the house.
So late yesterday we were in the attic, me on the stairs exhausted from moving stacks of flooring, him on his knees cutting a piece of wood. He glanced up and said, “Are you okay?” and I said, “I’m just thinking. It looks like I’m in pain when I do that, I know.”
And we started laughing.
In that instant I knew what we’ll remember when we’re old and sick and frail and, maybe, there’s only one of us left alone in this world. (I spent a lot of time with my grandfather after my grandmother died. I know what it’s going to be like.) We’re not going to care that we were working on the house even though we hate working on the house, or that we were exhausted and bruised and filthy, thinking about bills and work and mortgages and the difficulties of raising a teen.
We’re going to long with every fiber of our being to be back in that over-heated attic together at the end of that long, hard Sunday. . .laughing.
And knowing that—knowing I’m already living the life I long for with all my heart—you better believe. . .that’s genius.
How close are you to being a genius right now?
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