Don’t Indulge Neurotic Writing Rituals

Every time you put a provision on the conditions under which you can work – I have to write in the morning; I can write only when alone; I need a composition notebook of lined paper exactly like those I used when I studied in France; I can’t possibly write if I have a girlfriend/boyfriend; or I can write only if I’m going out with someone – you fail to grasp the essential truth of all great writing: it brooks no provisions . . . Yet when the writing demon seizes a person who can’t actually commit anything to paper, he will look to almost any voodoo to find the words. Writers everywhere have purchased expensive technology, rented rooms, left loved ones, exiled themselves to grass huts, or worse without bringing a single project to fruition. The problem is, none of this is writing. It’s stalling. And the more you indulge any neurotic notions about a set of necessary conditions that will enable you to write, the colder the trail will get.

– Betsy Lerner, The Forest for the Trees

*Photo by Donnie Nunley @ 500px / CC BY