Annie Dillard begins her book The Writing Life with—“When you write, you lay out a line of words. The line of words is a miner’s pick, a woodcarver’s gouge, a surgeon’s probe. You wield it, and it digs a path you follow. Soon you find yourself deep in new territory. Is it a dead end, or have you located the real subject? You will know tomorrow, or this time next year.”
Along with setting the tone and tangent for her chapters that follow, the passage captures the beauty and nobility, if you will, that define the writer’s challenge. What’s more, there’s a magical quality that affects a charge in the writer-as-reader, don’t you think? Something unnamable taps our dopamine stores and we feel a version of the runner’s high—we can do this, we will do this—we are writers, after all.
Even the most dismal of pronouncements, on the silver pens of our forerunners, cause us to celebrate the path with a sense of inevitable success.
In this section, The Writer’s Life, you’ll find a collection of insights from those who have gone before us. We’ve learned from their finished works, and we endure on the notes they wrote in the margin.
- Who is the Writer?
- Why Writers Write
- Advice—From Writer to Writer
- Ten Tips To Keeping the Creative Juices Flowing
- Writing Rules
- Rules for Writers
- Rules for Story
- Writers On Reading
- Writers’ Routines Part I
- Writers’ Routines Part II
- Writers’ Routines Part III
- The Notebooks of Men & Women of Letters
- The Diaries and Letters of Classic Writers
- How Writers Approach Their Research
- On Writer’s Block
- Writers & Potential Failure
- When the Novel is Finished
- What is Great Literature?
- Image Quotes for Writers