word craft


One solution for writing malaise

literatureI was feel­ing bad­ly about my day’s writ­ing. It did not seem right. Did not flow. Seemed forced. The whole project seemed emp­ty, not get­ting any­where. The lan­guage felt stilt­ed, stuffed. Frankly, dull. No good.

It is not the first time I have felt that way. It will not be the last. More­over, I know such a mood is quite com­mon for writ­ers. It is alto­geth­er easy to get depressed (if that is not too strong a word) as my writ­ing stum­bles from a lack of ener­gy and desire.

Nev­er­the­less, there is a solution.

As a mat­ter of course, I read all the time. But when I get into this foul mood, it is impor­tant to read some­thing real­ly good by a writer I admire. Then I sim­ply give myself over to that read­ing for three or four hours; immerse myself into the expe­ri­ence of good writing.

What hap­pens is that my ener­gy and out­look is restored. Why? Because that kind of engage­ment in good writ­ing is what made me want to become a writer in the first place. I am not read­ing ana­lyt­i­cal­ly, I am read­ing for the sheer plea­sure of the sto­ry, the char­ac­ters, the text, and the words, the writ­ing. I am going back to the begin­ning, to the place that orig­i­nal­ly enthralled and moti­vat­ed me to become a writer.

Being absorbed in anoth­er writer’s craft is rather like sit­ting down with a good writer friend, and unbur­den­ing myself of my autho­r­i­al short­com­ings. I do not have to say a word. I can­not. How­ev­er, as I read, it is as if my writer friend is say­ing, “Have you for­got­ten? This is why you want­ed to write. It works this way.“

For writ­ers it is always pos­si­ble to go back to page one.

3 thoughts on “One solution for writing malaise”

  1. I so enjoy your posts about writ­ing. Thank you for com­ing to St. Bernard’s School and Pitt Uni­ver­si­ty in Brad­ford, PA. And thank you for car­ing enough to instruct and explain your craft to oth­ers. Sin­cere­ly, Robin Beers


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