Now is an excellent time to begin thinking (or rethinking) the manuscript. Why so early? It takes time to create good art, and starting in spring permits ample periods of introspection and clear, un-rushed assessments of your project. I’ll be posting a monthly note/assignment to get you on track for application season.
April: Read the best of the best, which could mean highly dense narrative prose, mercilessly sharp nonfiction, and/or big-hearted poetry. Immerse yourself in writing that exhibits high facility with language and a strong pulse. [A pulse is an emotionally charged undercurrent running beneath the work.] Move away from anything two-dimensional, only-for-fun, or common. Take notes, write down ideas, go see weird/beautiful films, visit museums, travel, do something you’ve never done before. Wake up the brain and heart.
Consider writing something new, and ask yourself: What is the gate I have to unlock before I can write about anything else? Circle this subject over and over again.
Here is your April assignment: Set 50 sheets of blank white paper on your desk. Write down one story idea per sheet of paper, and set the drafted ideas in a second stack without revising. Each story idea can be as lean or descriptive as you like; the ideas can also be permutations of one another: there are no hard rules. Set your own schedule, or come to the desk when you think of something to write down, but do try to make it habitual in some way (i.e., every evening at 9 p.m. or 20 minutes a day or 2-3 ideas per day). These ideas can literally be about anything. Then, at the end of the month, go through all your material, and choose the ideas that really strike you.
(*This assignment was sourced from artist Marina Abramovic.)