Figure Out What's Next

Setting My Goal: Learning How to Write Prose

career change dennis blank Apr 16, 2010
writing kit ink and feather

by Dennis Blank

photo via pixabay

Taking the first step feels good

Last week, Coach Lou told me to “imagine the wraps are off” and answer the question “if I am being REAL, living an uncompromised life, what is different?” She also told me to “let my freak flag fly!” (really) and pressed me on my “unfulfilled ambitions.” I am falling behind on my assignments.

Dear Lou:  I confess to having intentionally avoided answering the “unfulfilled ambitions” question last week. If I reveal my secrets, and a lot of people read them, then I’m on the hook to really do something about them—and I hate personal accountability.

But I’m ready now. When I said I had “unfulfilled ambitions” I meant that I’d like to develop broader writing skills than I have today. Up to now I’ve been writing political and social essays using argumentation to make a point. They aren’t much different that the business letters and proposals I’ve written by the hundreds over the years; they just sell an idea rather than a product or service.

I want to be able to write prose. I want to tell stories, maybe even create some stories and characters of my own. I know the only way to do this is to do it, so I’ve created a list of topics to write about as practice. There are more than 20 items on the list—but I’m not going to post it here or anyplace else. Some stuff I just have to keep to myself.

I’m also making a commitment to cranking out at least two of these writing projects per month this year. If that doesn’t sound too ambitious I can only repeat that I find writing to be hard work, and I often have a difficult time telling myself that a piece is done. 

That said, the first piece, “Taxi Driver,” is done and is posted to my blog, The Daily Blank.

I know I have not completed the assignment you gave me, but I am doing some original research this weekend on the topic of “letting my freak flag fly” by attending the Juke Joint Blues Festival in Clarksdale, Miss. I attended last year and I know from experience that the combination of live blues music, played by master Delta musicians, combined with corn likker, will produce a rush of introspection. I’ll come back with something to say next week.


Dear d’:  A commitment to writing about your 20 undisclosed items (and I don’t really have to know what they are as long as you are inspired by them) is huge. Given your beliefs about it being hard and difficult to end, I would say knocking out two a month IS ambitious. And by making good on this commitment, you will have a book of short stories by this time next year. I wonder if anyone reading this is a publisher. If so, get your dibs in while you can. This guy is going to be BIG!

Okay, I know how you hate praise, especially in public, so I will knock it off and thank you for following through this far. I am sure there is a lot of fun, and maybe some reflection, waiting in Mississippi. Focus on the fun: The stories will come. 

You are now in action and next time I would like to work on developing a plan. We need a map to get us to the Juke Joint of your dreams. What is your vision for all of this? How do you see yourself in a year? Happy trails, y’all! 

Coach Lou

Dear Lou:  Did I get the location of Vogue Records correctly?


Dear d’:  Yes you did. It was almost smack dab in the middle of the block and piped music out onto the street where people stopped regularly to show off their dance moves. Vogue Records shared the store with Vogue Men's Wear. I worked on both sides while in high school. This is where Gloria Grey and I became friends.


Coach Lou is a co-founder of Chain Reaction Partners, an executive and leadership training consultancy in Boulder, Colo. d’blank is the author of The Daily Blank blog.


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