5 Writing Tips: Barbara Kingsolver
“The enterprise of writing a book has to feel like
walking into a cathedral.”
Writers work successfully in so many different ways, I never assume that what works for me is best for someone else. But if a common denominator exists among us, it might be attitude: the enterprise of writing a book has to feel like walking into a cathedral. It demands humility. The body of all written words already in print is vaulted and vast. You think you have something new to add to that? If so, it can only come from a position of respect: for the form, the process, and eventually for a reader’s valuable attention.
But if you’ve got a writer’s blood in your veins, you’re going to do it anyway. So it’s a project of balancing the audacity to do this work, and the humility to keep trying until you’ve gotten it right. Here are some strategies.
1. To begin, give yourself permission to write a bad book. Writer’s block is another name for writer’s dread—the paralyzing fear that our work won’t measure up. It doesn’t matter how many books I’ve published, starting the next one always feels as daunting as the first. A day comes when I just have to make a deal with myself: write something anyway, even if it’s awful. Nobody has to know. Maybe it never leaves this room! Just go. Bang out a draft.