Saturday, April 14, 2007

Writers' charms

The Guardian runs excerpts from How I Write: The Secret Lives Of Authors, edited by Dan Crowe with Philip Oltermann.

What practice or talisman do accomplished writers use to jumpstart their creativity? Chocolate works for Douglas Coupland and "a large Piranesi engraving of the ruins of the Baths Of Diocletian in Rome" inspires Alan Hollinghurst. Jane Smiley follows Archimedes when writer's block hits.

One of my favorite writers, Nicholson Baker, has a more pragmatic tool in his writing kit:

Some years ago I bought an industrial dispenser pack of 200 pairs of Mack's earplugs from Mostly, though, I buy them from the drug store. Recently, Mack's began offering them in orange, which is less disgusting than white.

I can sit anywhere, in any loud place, and work. Everything becomes 20 feet farther away than it really is. The chirping, barking, jingling cash-drawer of a world is out of reach, and therefore more precious.

You must have a good seal. When you unstick your thumb from a jammed-in plug, your eardrum will make a tiny, silent cry of pain, like a word in Arabic. Then you know you have a good seal.

Read the excerpts in the Guardian.

--Marshal Zeringue