All Is Well

Many of the writers I work with complain of a similar problem: they sit down to write but they can’t write. They want to write, they need to write, they should write, and yet they don’t write. This experience is just about the most pain one can feel while sitting and doing nothing. And yet the pain, the discomfort, is both necessary and a clear indicator to the writer that all is well. Writing is very much like a prayer. The writer is asking for something that is not currently clear within his consciousness. When the clarity comes, whether it is in the form of a rhyme to a poem or an epiphany at the end of an essay or a plot twist in a thriller, the writer experiences both discovery and relief, for what he has found feels both new and familiar. He is seeking something new, the authentic evolution of his story, and it is the familiarity that signals to him that what he has found belongs in the story he is telling.

I have experienced this discovery and relief thousands of times in my writing life. It remains the pleasure against which all other pleasures in my life are measured. Yet the more I have this experience, the more I understand that it cannot be replicated. Each prayer is wholly different than the one before, because what I asked for yesterday has already been given. Once it has been given there is no need for it to be given a second time because I already have it – and so it is not.

If I doubt my new prayer will be answered, I will feel discomfort. The more profound my doubt, the more profound the discomfort. Yet it is the pain of doubting that tells me I needn’t doubt. This is the doubt that can disbelieve spring in winter, whose eyes are hypnotized by what has already been made and has lost the vision to see what might be. It is the doubt that sees life as nothing but a giant waiting room within a slaughterhouse, where the dream of death is more real than the endless discovery of life.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion.

"A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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