Prolificity: Keep your chops up.

30 January 2006

“Keeping my chops up” has stuck in my head ever since I read this article in The New Yorker in 2004. Here’s the relevant quote:

“I try to keep my chops up,” Glover told Jane Goldberg, for Dance Magazine, “so I can just be.”

That’s Glover as in Savion Glover, the great tap virtuoso of our age. His point is that he works hard to keep his technique in line–then doesn’t have to think about it when it comes time to perform.

This matches my experience of writing. When I’m writing every day–writing to some endpoint, not just jotting down disconnected thoughts–the words flow more easily, and the prose itself ends up at a higher quality. I’m reminded of an interview with Janet Evans that I heard when she made her debut at the Seoul Olympics. Evans said that she tended to break her coach’s prohibition on swimming seven days a week, because she found that missing a day in the pool threw her off her (typhonic) rhythm when she got back in the water.

If you want to produce a lot, work to produce something all the time, not by spurts or by seasons.

Nulla dies sine linea.” — Pliny

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