Stressed about your writing? Here’s some soothing words from a Pulitzer Prize winner

“I haven’t had trouble with writer’s block. I think it’s because my process involves writing very badly. My first drafts are filled with lurching, clichéd writing, outright flailing around: writing that doesn’t have a good voice or any voice. But then there will be good moments. It seems writer’s block is often a dislike of writing badly and waiting for writing better to happen.”

Jennifer Egan

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9 thoughts on “Stressed about your writing? Here’s some soothing words from a Pulitzer Prize winner

  1. Stephanie Shirley

    This is a very inspirational way to look at writing and to not take our first drafts so seriously—they are, after all, just the first, which leaves much time and room for improvement!

    Reply
  2. beautifulorange Post author

    Exactly. And it’s all too easy to forget that when you’re deeply involved in your own creation. I’m slightly obsessed with quotes from writers but another great one is from the screenwriter Will Beall: “I force myself to sit down, write and hope it doesn’t turn out shitty. If it turns out shitty, I change it.”

    And thanks for the like Stephanie!

    Reply
  3. t h i n g s + f l e s h

    thank you for this insightful post. i find the writing isn’t the hard part, it’s the commitment. when i commit to writing regularly (a small blog post every day, even just a line, a riff, anything on the guitar), the stakes for each thing i write go down. there’s less and less pressure to be great all the time. the amazing truth is that not everything an artist makes is brilliant. but when enough things are, he leaves his mark. tony

    Reply
  4. beautifulorange Post author

    That’s very true. I’m now managing to write on my novel everyday – but sometimes it’s just about writing ‘something’. A good tip from a screenwriting course I went on was to pick a random word/phrase from a newspaper every morning and, without thinking, just start writing about it… and you weren’t allowed to take your pen of the page for 15 mins, wherever the writing took you. Every morning. That was the first exercise that got me in to a rhythm of writing regularly.

    And thanks for stopping by!

    Reply
  5. johnnycrabcakes

    Natalie Goldberg, in “Writing Down the Bones,” recommends doing writing as a daily “practice,” the way one “practices” meditation. Same idea as the newspaper headline, only “just writing.” LIke “just sitting”. I try to write every day. I’ve been a bad boy lately though…
    p.s. I’m a quote-whore too.

    Reply
    1. beautifulorange Post author

      Yep, a lot of it is about ‘just writing’. To be honest, with my novel, I’ve realised that ‘just getting it down’ is leading me to sacrifice some of the beauty in the language in favour of driving the narrative. But I’ve also realised that that’s fine for now.

      Reply

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