Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


Physical Writing

Filed under: Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 5:01 am

The heater vent has turned off and I think both the washer and the dryer have stopped downstairs. I should get up and help get the laundry finished. I should hop in the shower and get ready for work. I should do a lot of things, but I’m still here, writing.

The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can’t help it.  – Leo Rosten (1908 – )

It feels good to let the words leave my hands and splash onto the paper. Sometimes writing feels like an entirely physical activity. I tried to explain this to Mike the other night, but he didn’t understand.

Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time… The wait is simply too long.  – Leonard Bernstein (1918 – 1990)

Sometimes writing doesn’t feel intellectual. Instead of racking my brain trying to find the correct words, the words flow too quickly. They are trying to escape my head, but my hand is too slow to let them all flow freely. Even the spoken word is too slow sometimes. When my words flow like water, writing is entirely a physical act.

We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to.  – W. Somerset Maugham (1874 – 1965)

Write quickly. Write fast enough to capture them all on paper. Oops! There goes another one. And yet another. So many profound thoughts are lost because my hand is too slow. That’s what writing feels like to me sometimes.

The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn’t behave that way you would never do anything.  – John Irving (1942 – )

It is times like these when I feel like I should practice. I should be in training for writing the same way I am in training to run the 5K. I should just teach my hand to write faster. I should teach my fingers to type faster. Type faster than speech. Type faster than thought. If only I could type that fast, then writing would feel like an intellectual activity when my mind is racing.

Read over your compositions, and wherever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.  – Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784), from Boswell’s Life of Johnson

Of course, the real intellectual work comes after the words are on the paper. Read. Edit. Reword. Add some quotes to make it seem like I’m well-read. That is the true intellectual work of writing. After the idea is on paper, I need to train my mind to communicate clearly, but when the idea comes to me, I need to train my fingers to type faster. When the idea is flowing in my mind, I need the fingers of a sprinter.


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