The secret to writing

I’ve written before about Oliver Burkeman’s Guardian column, ‘This column will save your life’. In another recent column Burkeman addressed the challenge of dealing with writer’s block. As usual Burkeman draws on a fabled self-help guide, in this case Robert Boice’s, How Writers Journey to Comfort and Fluency. As with all books of fabled repute, Boice’s is long out of print, and changes hands online for large sums. Fortunately, Burkeman shells out £68 for a print-on-demand copy, and rather generously summarises Boice’s advice to save us from doing the same.

He is somewhat disgruntled to discover that Boice’s advice amounts to little more than – write, for a short period, every day. There is a little bit more to it than this, and you should read the column, (and save money on the book), but it boils down to – don’t build writing up to be a big deal, which involves harnessing elusive and mystical creative forces, but rather an everyday activity which you can pick up and put down at will, like running or digging the garden. Only when you have demystified it in this way will you have the freedom to write with comfort and fluency.

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