“In truth, I’ve found that routine interruptions and distractions don’t much hurt a work in progress and may actually help it in some ways. It is, after all, the dab of grit seeping into the oyster’s shell that makes the pearl…”
In On Writing, his wonderfully candid and helpful guide, Stephen King devotes a surprising number of pages talking about a familiar writer’s quest: the search for the perfect conditions in which to create. He puts it this way: “God, if only I were in the right writing environment, with the right understanding people, I just KNOW I could be penning my masterpiece.”
Stephen’s been there himself. We all know the feeling. In one of my drawers, I have a file into which I’ve tucked brochures and even applications for about writers’ retreats that I fantasize about. Hey, I may even make it to one some day, but I’m not holding my breath. And as Stephen, who’s no slouch in the writing department, points out, all this fantasizing about having the perfect conditions for writing just gets in the way of… you guessed it: writing.
So let’s take a tip from a master storyteller: “You don’t need writing classes or seminars any more than you need this book or any other book on writing….You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself. These lessons almost always occur with the study door closed.”
Let’s do what we need to do: get our butts in the chair and write. Runners run, dancers dance, and writers write. That’s the long and short of it. Why waste our energy trying to create perfect conditions around us: they’re waiting for us right on the page. Write on.