How to Get Writing Done


A writer takes earnest measures to secure his solitude and then finds endless ways to squander it.

{Don DeLillo}




I noted down this quote when Roshni, one of my classmates, opened her blog in front of the whole class. I love Don DeLillo, his stories are just amazing. This quote made me think about the different kinds of discipline and methods that nonfiction, poetry and fiction writers use. It does not matter what you write – but your perception of the writing process itself.

A writer must find his or her place in the world. Writing can be fun, moving and beautiful – but it is an extremely difficult thing to get done. I read some essays about it. They were written by Raymond Carver. Even though he mainly didn’t have time to write (he married and had children when he was very young, and he needed to have different jobs), he also had problems concentrating and get things done.

“When I’m fishing, I feel guilty that I’m not writing, and when I’m writing, I feel guilty that I’m not fishing. But when push comes to shove, I’ll always take the writing.”
[Raymond Carver]


His routine would include trying to write short pieces (in his case, poems) in order to keep his writing done, while he would focus on longer pieces, such as short stories, in more inspired moments. Reading is of course a big part of getting inspired. It is not just a matter of style: the more you read, the more you get ideas. Iain Sinclair, author of the book London Overground, wakes up at six a.m. every morning and writes until 12. Then he has a bath, lunch, and goes for a walk. Discipline in writing is important. As we saw last time, walking and trying to gather ideas as responses to the landscape can be very inspiring as well.

Robert Macfarlane is another very popular british writer. His routine includes walking, and in some talks he also gave suggestions about the appropriate clothing and behaviour to consider in these circumstances (check weather conditions, etc). Different writers have different methodologies and kinds of discipline. Macfarlane is poetic, descriptive, he is a “writer of place”. Weather and setting are characters themselves. Rachel Lichtenstein gains a lot of experience and inspiration when talking to people. You can can switch your perspective with the ones of ther people.



Pic by Sergey Xol


And what about deciding when and where to write? Sometimes it is better to write when thoughts, ideas and details are still fresh in your mind. Sometimes not. As nonfiction is based on real life experiences, maybe the best would be to write when details and ideas are still very fresh. But it is not easy to say. On the other hand, nonfiction needs the buildup of a narrative. Details can (or must?) embellish facts. And that leads to another important question: does nonfiction really exist?


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