soft landings


Anything new takes guts and a soft landing. 


When I was nine, my brother and I pooled our money to buy a unicycle.  It arrived with no instructions–just a banana seat, a wheel, and two pedals. 

“You first,” said my older, street smart brother. 

I planted my right foot on the pedal, pushed up, and–in a graceful loop–arced over the wheel. The unicycle squirted out the other direction. I splatted onto the pavement, face first. 

My shins still have those scars.


Now, maybe for you, a blank sheet of paper is scarier than a unicycle. But I guarantee you’ll never skin your knees writing. 

Here’s what you don’t do: sit down at the computer, format your page, and try to reel off that perfect first draft. Way too risky. That’s like learning to ride a unicycle on a high wire. 

Write where you’ve got a soft landing and no one’s watching you. Start a slop page.  


On a slop page you’re allowed to put anything down at all. Terrible ideas, half thoughts, bad words. 

Why do we call it a slop page? Because slop is messy and soft. You can try things out with no risk at all. Try out sentences. Ride ideas around. No risks, no scrapes. That’s the safety of a slop page. And step one for good writing.


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