Thursday, February 14, 2008


Today's guest interview is Writers' Muscle Memory.

How did you acquire Writers' Muscle Memory?

By writing.

What is the secret of your success?

Writing and not thinking. You write until you get what you want down on paper, then you revise it using thoughtful revision techniques which also become muscle memory if you use them enough.

Where did you learn this secret?

From writing and from observing the way published writers work.

Does this have anything to do with finding your voice?


Have you ever tried performance-enhancing substances?


Can you name a few?

I'm actually Jonesing on enthusiasm. Also tried anger, revenge, and ridicule. All powerful performance enhancers, but nothing does it quite as well as enthusiasm.

What about reading?

It can also be a performance-enhancing substance. Good material makes you raise your own standards, bad writing makes you realize you are a product of the primordial ooze, no matter what Governon Huckabee says, and that you have made some progress.

What's your take on blogging?

That's like asking a ballet dancer about his or her relationship with the barre or a musician's relationship with practice.

What happens to you if you don't blog?

Same thing that happens if I don't write. I get weaker. I just read somewhere, a dancer saying you can take a few days off, but if you take say three months off, you're a year behind.

What happens if you don't read?

I don't know because I haven't stopped reading. I suppose the same thing would happen in that situation as would happen if I took some time off from writing. I'd get even farther behind than I am.

You talk of getting behind and in a sense working to keep in shape--what would you be getting behind?

Me. There is always the image of the writer I want to be, talking to me, beckoning me, cheering me. Something like the Jessica Lang character in the film, All That Jazz, reminding Joe Gideon/Bob Fosse what's at stake.

Who or what is the writer you want to be?

Keeps changing on me. I lost considerable time when the writer I wanted to be stopped changing before my eyes. Being satisfied produces the literary equivalent of arthritis. You'll have to excuse me now; gotta get at my stretching exercises.


Lori Witzel said...

Yep, from joint and sinew to the barre...thanks for sharing your discipline, it keeps me coming back (and coming back to mine.)

R.L. Bourges said...

shelly: the original Bob Fosse All That Jazz (the one you mention) was on a different plane from the remake - literally.
Life is funny that way: no dress rehearsal and straight to showtime. For everybody.
Thanks for the daily reminders. Best.

x said...

I'll tell you what happens from not reading; you get reader's block and completely insecure about your writing because there is nothing to measure it against, no tradition to draw on, blank space, but it's as hard to jump back on that wagon as on the writing wagon when you've stopped. On the the other hand, I'm wondering if it will make my writing less derivative, more original, as I'm moving towards memoir.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what kind of writer you have become. I don't know what kind of writer you are becoming but I have it on the best authority that you are and always were a good, kind and compassionate friend who helped out a friend who was in dire emotional straits. May G-d Bless and Keep you from harm. Francisco

John Eaton said...

5 6 7 8. Show time.

Thanks for being, Shelly.