Friday, June 10, 2011

The writer is the one who stays in the room.

Photo by Javiy, found here.

With apologies for the appalling delay, here is my summary of my favorite lesson from the keynote speech by Ron Carlson at this year's Muse and The Marketplace writers' conference:

The writer is the one who stays in the room.

We are not writing to support our beliefs, we are writing to discover what might be worth believing in.

Writing is like walking out into the ocean. At some point, the waves will lift you up, and you won't be able to touch the ground. And it won't matter if the ground is six inches below you, or six feet below you, or sixty feet below. When you can't touch, you can't touch.

And there will be friends waiting for you on the shore, on the warm sand with towels to dry you off, and they will console you if you swim back to them, they'll say, "it's okay, we understand, you can try again to write tomorrow."

But it's your job to stay there, to deal with the ambiguity and uncertainty and fear.

Keep swimming.

The writer is the one who stays in the room.


  1. Nice! And so true. You have to stay in that room, even if you start to feel a little claustrophobic.

  2. Wow! I like that. It's so true. When I'm working on a first draft, I sometimes feel--even with an outline--it's like walking off a ledge.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend!

  3. Good to see you back here.

    I like that line " the writer is the one who stays in the room." It's not enough to just pop one's head in the door to see what's happening. If you're not there for the duration, you'll miss some information.

    Tossing It Out

  4. Profound... I am writing to discover what I might believe in... I love the idea of writing as risk taking and discovery.