The Writer’s BLOCK

Illustrator and author of The Shape of Ideas Grant Snider, dropped a new comic for New York Times books that outlines the pains of writer’s block using the metaphor of a city block itself. I’ve written extensively on the myth of a writer’s block here before. And it’s just that, a myth. No matter what fictitious […]

Constraint is freedom

More often than not we aim for freedom from constraint. No one likes to be nailed down to a particular way of doing things. But on some occasions, constraints can be freeing.  For one, deadlines are great motivators. We’d never get anything done without any pressure. Writing is difficult enough — put a cap on […]

Neil Gaiman teaches the art of storytelling

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see the disclosure for more info. In what is one of the biggest MasterClass courses yet, award-winning author Neil Gaiman teaches students how to create compelling plots, new characters, and bring unseen worlds to life. In 19 lessons, the world-renowned writer takes his students through his own philosophy on what […]

Mary Oliver: The poem gets written

“It is 6am and I am working. I am absent-minded, reckless, heedless of social obligations etc. It is as it must be. The tire goes flat, and the tooth falls out, there will be a hundred meals without mustard. The poem gets written.” Mary Oliver Who needs the muse when you’ve got a proper habit? […]

Ursula K. Le Guin’s writing habits

What is your ideal writing routine? For novelist Ursula K. Le Guin, it was all about writing in the morning, reading in the afternoon, and playing at night. Criss-crossing such experiences throughout the day was a boon to her creativity. Through a process of production, consumption, and rest, she built a proper system for keeping […]

‘Start the next one today’

I remember rolling the last page out and adding it to the stack that was the finished manuscript. Nobody knew I was done. Nobody cared. But I knew. I felt like a dragon I’d been fighting all my life had just dropped dead at my feet and gasped out its last sulfuric breath.   Rest […]

How to appear completely

It’s a place where we disappear, locked in thought of the imagination. The pen moves mightily, an effortful attempt to get locked in with each written word. Each sentence is a constant beginning, a chance to practice a stroke of brilliance. We just might get it, someday. Get what, you ask? Perhaps nothing but the […]

Choosing to walk

Erling Kagge is the first person to trek the Three Poles Challenge: the North Pole, the South Pole, and the summit of Mount Everest. In his book Silence: In the Age of Noise (Amazon), he dissects the of the art of silence.   “Humans or homo sapiens didn’t invent walking. But walking invented human beings. So, of course, […]

‘The test of a book is how much good stuff you can throw away’

“The test of a book is how much good stuff you can throw away,” he said. “When I’m writing it, I’m just as proud as a goddam lion. I use the oldest words in the English language. People think I’m an ignorant bastard who doesn’t know the ten-dollar words. I know the ten-dollar words. There […]

Do you want to drive the car or polish it?

Do you want to drive the car or polish it? That’s the metaphor best-selling author Karl Ove Knausgaard uses to cure writer’s block. Writes Quartzy: “Writer’s block, to the extent it exists, stems from a suspicion that your work may not be great, and a reluctance to face that fact. When you’re always polishing the […]