Friday, April 13, 2007

How they write

At the Guardian, a funny selection of writers' reflections on how they fend off blocks. (I'm with Jane Smiley--a hot shower is always a good idea...) Though there are some other rather fascinating details (Jake Arnott's grandmother was a small-amounts-of-chocolate-eating showgirl in Paris? Douglas Coupland sees a trainer five times a week?!?), the best one by far is Nicholson Baker's (earplugs):

Some years ago I bought an industrial dispenser pack of 200 pairs of Mack's earplugs from Mostly, though, I buy them from the drug store. Recently, Mack's began offering them in orange, which is less disgusting than white.

I can sit anywhere, in any loud place, and work. Everything becomes 20 feet farther away than it really is. The chirping, barking, jingling cash-drawer of a world is out of reach, and therefore more precious.

You must have a good seal. When you unstick your thumb from a jammed-in plug, your eardrum will make a tiny, silent cry of pain, like a word in Arabic. Then you know you have a good seal.


  1. Loved that. Once you get into the flow of writing, nothing should come in your way. Truly the words of a master craftsman.

    The BlueRectangle Crew

  2. great post. loved the article. now i'd like someone to do a cross study on creative blocks in writers vs. musicians vs. painters vs. movie directors. is it the same with everyone or do their rememdies depend upon the medium? i don't have anything magic myself though sometimes sharpening my pencils before drawing or buying a new color ink or paint can do it for me. however it does not last long. sometimes it actually takes depresssion about being blocked to get me to get back to the drawing board...