How to Conquer Writer’s Block: Tip 86


I found this quote by Lorin Stein (Words Unwired, NYT, 1/8/2016) to be confirming to my process. She compares fiction writers to method actors, then explains the importance of being an essentially “unprofessional” solitary person.

“To write a story also requires public solitude, the ability to be alone publicly like a method actor. You can’t be worrying how you sound. You can’t wonder whether you or your characters are likable or smart or interesting. You have to be inside the scene — the tactile world of tables and chairs and sunlight — attending to your characters, people who exist for you in nonvirtual reality. This takes weird brain chemistry. (A surprising number of novelists hear voice, and not metaphorically. They hear voice in their heads.) It also takes years of reading — solitary reading.For all these reasons, writing fiction is pretty much the opposite of writing a good tweet, or curating an Instagram feed. It’s the opposite of the personal-­­­slash-professional writing that is now part of our everyday lives. More than ever, we need writers who are unprofessional, whose private worlds come first. (italics JR’s) Surely this has something to do with the wild success of immersive, multivolume imports like “My Struggle” and Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan tetralogy.”

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