- 17 Jun 2013
In the April issue of The New Yorker, John McPhee offered this advice to a young friend who complained of writer’s block. I love it and think we could all take a lesson or two from it:
“Dear Joel: You are writing, say, about a grizzly bear. No words are forthcoming. For six, seven, 10 hours no words have been forthcoming. You are blocked, frustrated, in despair. You are nowhere, and that’s where you’ve been getting. What do you do?
“You write, ‘Dear Mother.’ And then you tell your mother about the block, the frustration, the ineptitude, the despair. You insist that you are not cut out to do this kind of work. You whine. You whimper. You outline your problem, and you mention that the bear has a fifty-five-inch waist and a neck more than 30 inches around but could run nose-to-nose with Secretariat. You say the bear prefers to lie down and rest. The bear rests 14 hours a day. And you go on like that as long as you can. And then you go back and delete the ‘Dear Mother’ and all the whimpering and whining, and just keep the bear.”