I listened to Natalie Goldberg and Julia Cameron’s audio tapes The writing life again last week. It’s like meeting old friends and going away feeling inspired. The ideas in these tapes are not only useful for writers. People engaged in non-routine work could also benefit from many of their observations and insights. For example, Goldberg had a concept of “first thought”—that is, what comes to your mind in any context before you censor it. Cameron had a phrase of “laying the track”. When you start working on a new piece, you just pour out what you have inside you and put them down on paper to lay the track. In their own ways, each emphasized a different aspect of the creative effort. Here lies one of their big ideas. It is essential to separate the writing phase and the editing phase, the role of creator and that of the critic. When you try to get ideas out of yourself, you do so as if you believe you are the greatest. Only after you put down your “first thought” and you have laid the track without any hindrance from you, you have something in front of you that you can shape and critique.