A Solitary Existence

Marilynne Robinson: I don’t think I could want something else. For instance, I’m kind of a solitary. This would not satisfy everyone’s hopes, but for me it’s a lovely thing. I recognize the satisfactions of a more socially enmeshed existence than I cultivate, but I go days without hearing another human voice and never notice [Read More…]

Oppressive Punctuation?!

Brian Hutchinson: VANCOUVER — There was Patrick Stewart, PhD candidate, defending his final dissertation before a handful of hard-nosed examiners at the University of British Columbia late last month. The public was invited to watch; two dozen curious onlookers saw Stewart attempt to persuade five panelists that his 149-page thesis has merit, that it is [Read More…]


Flannery O’Connor, in a letter to Cecil Dawkins in 1957: I’m a full-time believer in writing habits, pedestrian as it all may sound. You may be able to do without them if you have genius but most of us only have talent and this is simply something that has to be assisted all the time [Read More…]

Stylish Academic Writing

Putting those two words before the word “writing” creates for many an impossibility or a rarity so infrequent one need not bother. Yet, Helen Sword, in her book Stylish Academic Writing, contends page after page that the two ought to be combined and that academics with a desire to be more stylish and elegant in their writing [Read More…]

Great Thought about Writing

“Put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.” —Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette I’ll avoid providing a list of names, but far too many don’t re-read, edit, cut and cut and cut. Far too [Read More…]

Grading Orwell

From Michael Crichton: I had gone to college planning to become a writer, but early on a scientific tendency appeared. In the English department at Harvard, my writing style was severely criticized and I was receiving grades of C or C+ on my papers. At eighteen, I was vain about my writing and felt it [Read More…]

Platform and Publishing

Publishers are concerned about platform, and how to measure that is changing. Evidently Mark Driscoll has a new line of books with Tyndale called Resurgence, and I provide below the questions being asked of potential authors about their platform. Publishers are businesses, of course, and they want to make money on each book. They want [Read More…]

Writing’s Mysteries

I recently read a fascinating book about the rituals and routines of some of the Western world’s most creative people, including Hemingway, Tolstoy, Faulkner, Ben Franklin, Ann Beattie, Joyce Carol Oates, H.L. Mencken, Melville, Hawthorne… the list goes on. The book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, covers more than writers but my focus was the writers. [Read More…]

Flannery and Boldness

Flannery O’Connor, the inimitable Southern master of the grotesque image, retired early to bed — mostly because of her lupus. After her evening prayer, she read St Thomas Aquinas. Why? I read a lot of theology because it makes my writing bolder. [Read more…]

Productivity Habits

This is an extract from an extract of a book about the habits of productive writers. What are your best creative habits? Here’s the first paragraph of the extract by Oliver Burkeman and then the six habits he found in reading Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals: One morning this summer, I got up at first light – [Read More…]