Chronicle: Habit of Writing

Rachel Toor, writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, observes:

You can find a lot of advice out there on writing. Many writers have come up with beautiful, funny, and quotable sentences about writing and what’s required to make it happen. Most of them have to do with discipline. “Don’t get up,” says Ron Carlson.” “I only write when I am inspired,” Faulkner apparently said, and added, “Fortunately, I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.” Most of them say that you need to take writing seriously, to treat it like a job.

. . . The friend who introduced me to running, a biologist at Duke University, once said that serious runners never ask themselves if they’re going to run. The answer to that is always yes. The only questions are where, when, and with whom. Discipline becomes practice becomes habit. It’s a lot harder to break habits.  Often, during Q-and-A sessions with famous writers, people will ask about the writing process: When do you write? For how long? Where do you do it? There are as many answers as there are writers, and they’re generally not helpful or interesting. The key is to figure out what works for you and then to keep at it long enough that you can answer the question without thinking, to make writing a habit, just like brushing your teeth.

The essay, “The Habit of Writing,” is available on line to subscribers.


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