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Some excellent writing advice from Tom Robbins:
Get yourself in that extreme state of being next to madness. You should always write with an erection. Even if you’re a woman.

My own version of that philosophy: Write from the torso; edit from the head.

The first is that utterly visceral, instinctive, and natural state in which we have to shut off the censorship that wants us to be nice, to fit in, to not piss anyone off, to be accepted, to make our parents proud. The second is where cool judgments and harsh cuts have to be made, little darlings have to be slaughtered, and the marketplace has its say.

When the book reaches the shelf, it's (hopefully) a fruitful marriage of art and commerce. The Apollonian/Dionysian Conflict resolved.


What an insightful post! My torso's been doing a lot of writing of late, and my head keeps waking me up at night (well, my head and the sick dog) with astute editing suggestions, which I'm somehow managing to remember for the morning.

This is a very good thing, because I'm often inhibited by the internal editor/critic while writing. Right now I don't have time for that particular dance.
Anonymous said…
Joni, I've never heard the Tim Robbins quote, and I love it - and your condensed version. A friend told me today she writes with the TV on or something else happening around her. Other than classical music, because it doesn't pull me out - I need my quiet space and to be focused on the story. I'm afraid that means more in my head than in my gut and heart sometimes, but I do try to be in the 'zone.'

Was it Somerset Maugham who said, there are three rules to writing - and no one knows what they are?

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