What Is Writing Like?

“I don’t write to be happy or to receive any sort of satisfaction, I write because I have to, because for me writing is like breathing.” — Mempo Giardinelli, Santo Oficio De La Memoria/the Memory’s Saint Job

“Rationally persuasive writing is like house painting: it’s all in the preliminaries.” — Joel Jay Kassiola, San Francisco State University

“For me, writing is like sledding down a wide, steep slope. You can carefully pick your launching point, but often you don’t know exactly where you’ll end up until you’re already halfway down.” — Greg, The Writing Center, UNC-CH

“Writing is like walking in a deserted street. Out of the dust in the street you make a mud pie.” — John LeCarre, Absolute Friends

In case you forgot, whether you care or not, November is National Novel Writing Month.


  1. I like the fog cliche, particularly if you’re writing something of considerable length. You start forward, not sure if you’re heading toward your destination, only able to see a few feet ahead. However, at some point (perhaps 3/4 of the way through) the sun starts to break down and, more importantly than seeing where you’re going, you’re able to clearly see where you’ve been, and know then that you’re on the right track.

  2. And for the other side of the coin, tonight is National Drunken Writers Night. So perhaps some people write just because they can. Or it’s nowhere nearly as harmful as, say, smoking a cigarette after more than a few drinks.

  3. Write to discover. What you discover will change with each review and the same goes for your audience (I am a fan of reader-response criticism).

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