On being a writer...

A celebration of the writing process, of being a writer, of all the weird things that pass through a writing brain...

Friday, 10 October 2014


I want to direct you to a great Ted Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of The Signature of All Things, which I so enjoyed this summer.

Her talk about 'genius' is just so invigorating for anyone who is writing - or indeed doing anything creative.  To summarise her message:  she says life becomes a whole lot easier for a writer (and in some ways more difficult) if genius is seen as something which visits from the outside. 

What the writer has to do is 'show up'.  By this she means, sit at the desk. Obviously it's no use sitting there half asleep all the time, but there is no substitute for actually being there. 

I'm so conscious that she's right, even though sometimes I have to bribe and cajole myself to stay at that desk and write away at something that feels tedious and turgid and earthbound and the opposite of creative.  I have to write my book, as well as I can, and hope that I'm going to be visited by that little genius of creativity, that some might call God, which will transform what I write to something a little bigger and better than I thought possible.

But I have to show up.  I have to write.  I can't expect the muse to strike (if that's the right word), if I'm somewhere else all the time.

After all when I go to the theatre, I show up.  I'm not half hearted about it.  I switch off the phone, I sit in the dark, I don't speak, and I pay attention.  And that's what I have to do when I write.

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