The Writing Party


I usually write in the morning, but because I’m working on a book now and this column and a weekly column for the Good Men Project, I need to return to my desk in the middle of the day if I’m going to attend to all these commitments. This is always a little challenging, because once I’m done writing in the morning, once I’ve spent a couple hours down the writing rabbit-hole, I’m ready to play with other people. I’m ready to read something, or watch something, or talk to someone, or go somewhere – in short, I’m ready to use all those other body parts beside my mind and fingers.

Nonetheless, back to the desk I must go. As I’ve written here before, I’m rarely in the mood to write when I begin writing. But when I begin writing in the middle of the day, my first inclination is always to see just how fast I can get the thing finished. This is a non-starting frame of mind. I cannot begin by dreaming of what I’ll do when I’m done. If I threw a party, and all I told my prospective guests about that party was: “I don’t what we’ll do, or what music we’ll listen to, or what I’ll serve for dinner, but I damn well know you’ll be out of my house by 10:00 PM sharp!” no one would come.

So too with writing. Ideas are like invited guests. Who comes depends on the party. Some guests like a four-course dinner and lively conversation; others like loud music and tequila shots; still others, BBQ and croquet. As the host, I’ve got to decide the kind of party I want to throw. My options may be limitless, but whatever I choose becomes its own invitation. Soon, guests begin to arrive.

Not every single writing party’s a success, though I have learned by now the kinds I like, and I almost always enjoy who shows up to mine. They usually arrive in sandals and beads and smelling of patchouli, which leaves me, a V-neck sweater and khakis guy, as the odd man out. As the author, that’s just fine with me. I’m just the host. Plus, once this party’s done, I don’t miss them. Though I think of them often as I close the door to my workroom and head out into the world, feeling just as I would at the end of any good party, filled up from good company, having forgotten for the moment the lie of loneliness.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual coaching and group workshops.