Blocking and tackling

I’ll confess that I was pleased to find this quote from Joseph Heller the other day: “Every writer I know has trouble writing.”

Whenever I am struggling to find the right words—the blocking and tackling of writing—I’m convinced that others must find it easier to write than me. I’m jealous of the facile writer, the first-time-right composers, those with the gift of “flow.”


So Heller’s comment lifted my spirits.

I’m a block writer, for the most part. My method is similar to Ring Lardner’s (according to Harold Ross,”…he {Lardner} said he wrote a few widely separated words or phrases on a piece of paper and then went back and filled in the spaces.”), followed by revision. And more revision. I spend more time rewriting than writing.

Some writers I’ve talked to tell me that they can only write from front to back, from the lead sentence onward. They don’t move on until they’re happy with each sentence. Adopting that technique would give me a vicious case of writer’s block: I find skipping ahead to work on a sentence here or a paragraph there keeps me going. I think of my writing as a patchwork quilt, passages and paragraphs stitched together with transitions.

Copyright © 2007 Jefferson Flanders