A cycle: Reading, writing, thinking, talking, and writing. It’s also a typical process through which we come up with ideas and communicate them to others. We hope that they are good ideas—that’s why we talk to people close at hand and read those who are not. Sometimes, they’re not—that’s why we talk to people close at hand and read those who are not.
The idea that writers work entirely alone, isolated, sometimes inebriated, and produce works of genius under great and emotionally painful duress is not really true. Writers are quite sociable, are only occasionally inebriated, and often produce works of genius after spending quality time with their friends and family, and later with their editors. What you see on the published printed page is often the product of years of exchanges with several people, whether they are nosing around the manuscripts directly, or not.
“Think before you speak; read before you think; ask before you read,” my mother used to say. And I add: “Get to know some interesting people before you ask.” Join a readers’ or writers’ group. Visit your library and get to know your librarians (they miss you). Keep an idea file while you read and jot down the names of books and people you should track down to talk about what’s on your mind. If you have a therapist, that’s great; but that’s not what I’m talking about, here.
If you are already on your way into a small or large writing project, take a look at the other pages here, and send me a note through the “comments” section or by clicking on my email address.