Hi everyone. Thought you might enjoy this Q and A I did with the Daily Beast — discussing TED talks, Malcolm Gladwell, why I wrote QUIET in a Greenwich Village cafe, advice for aspiring authors, and more…
What do you need to have produced/completed in order to feel that you’ve had a productive writing day?
I notice that most writers have quotas of some number of words per day. I envy this approach, because it seems so clean, but it has never worked for me. I often spend an entire day editing, restructuring a narrative, or researching. There are no new words on the paper, but it’s still progress. I think. It might also be a really elaborate way of procrastinating.
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
You probably want to be a writer because books and words are a source of wonder to you. Make sure to keep it that way. Do not turn writing into a business or chore. It’s hard work, yes, but it should still be the thing you itch to do every day.
When I quit law and took up writing, at age 33, I told myself that it was OK if I didn’t publish anything until I was 75. That took the pressure off. I started a little consulting firm to pay the bills and spent the rest of my time at various cafés, working on my “hobby.” I’m actually not sure if I went to the cafés to write or wrote so I could sit around in cafés, which is my favorite activity. I wrote most of Quiet at a Greenwich Village café that drew writers from all over New York City and tragically no longer exists.
Writing helps me solidify and clarify my thinking (I think at the speed of my keyboard, rather than my tongue). But it seems I am only able to write TO someone. I am not an aspiring author, writing is important to me because I am very reflective by nature and it all comes together for me on the keyboard. But I just can’t seem to write without someone to receive it in mind. Every have this problem?
I do the same thing. If I have a problem I can’t solve, I sit and write. At first it’s just a stream of consciousness but eventually I usually discover a solution. I also tend to express my opinions better through writing than conversation. I wonder if this is an ‘introvert thing’. It seems logical that introverts might be better writers than conversationalists.
I have a one year contract with an Art Gallery. Nothing is selling….for any of us. I decided to use this ‘Quiet’ time to paint. Not aiming to sell is quite freeing. New ideas continue to surface, No procrastinating here! So in answer to your question about writing TO someone, I write to MYSELF. No need for anyone to be on the receiving end. Just get it down. Paint, Write or Dance.
I’ve toggled with writing as well. I go through moments when elaborate ideas come together nicely then I drift away. I’ve always had the idea of publishing some kind of book and have gone so far as to contact a publishing company to learn about the process. Words are magic to me…just like the library. Something in my mind happens when I find a great book or roam around the library. I LOVE the book QUIET because it defined for me what happens inside. I may start visiting my local cafe to see what kind of writing energies come to fruition.
Thank you for writing QUIET. The explanations, examples and solid theory of those with the need for Quiet has made a difference. Your Book is next to the easel.
Your advice for writing is practical yet encouraging. Loved the book Quiet – I’ve been telling friends and family about it. It would make a great resource for parents and teachers.