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    Writer in the Headlights

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    It’s dark.

    There’s a long way to go.

    Full tank of gas? Check. Snacks, music, and coffee to keep my eyes from dropping? Check, but not too much coffee - I don’t want to stop The wheel.for anything.

    I’ve got a map, but I drew it myself and it's full of gaps. Part of me hopes to get lost. I’m going somewhere I’ve never been before and I don’t really care if I end up somewhere else. As long I end up somewhere, as long my head-lights shine, illuminating the road ahead, my grip on the wheel will be white-knuckled.

    I will push forward to morning if I have to.

    The road.

    As a metaphor for the writing process, this bland boring image may not seem so appealing. And it also runs the risk of shamefully treading on the toes of Canadian songwriter Tom Cochrane ("Life is a highway. I want to ride it.")("All night long").... but if you are "goin' my way" and taking this put-your-head-down stop-for-nothing approach to pumping out your words, there are many advantages.

    Compared to other "Metaphors of Process" (introduced last week as the "Gardener" and the "Fishermen"), this one is useful for the writer who needs rumble strips to keep from slipping into the ditches of distraction. This type of writer also requires that its operator have strong faith in its abilities and in its vehicle. The vehicle in this case is the narrative or poetic structure and the writer will want to make sure the machinery is running smooth before a long overnight haul. Fill the tires with air. Don't ignore unfamiliar noises your vehicle makes, but don't let them bother you either. Use different gears to pace yourself.

    Disadvantages of the "Tommy Cochrane" process are numerous: 1) it's not all that scenic, 2) it's exhausting, and 3) you may have missed some very interesting turn-offs by speeding right past them in the night. That's okay though. When the sun comes out and we're able to see the mess we've made while we were focused on forward progress, we can put on our garden gloves and hipwaiters and get to work in a different frame of mind. As fishermen, we'll be able to throw a line towards any and every possible digression. As gardeners, we can identify which seeds are worth nurturing.

    And if you went down the wrong highway and ended up stuck at a dead-end, at least you'll know not to take it again next time...

    Looking for more guidance and inspiration for your writing process? These two titles just landed on library shelves:

    (Click to place hold)


    Metaphors of Process

    by Phil - 2 Comment(s)

    The hardest part about writing a blog for writers is that there are so many different types of writing, all of which require their own exclusive set of skills and are built atop their own separate foundations. Even inside the mind of a single writer the poet, novelist, and journalist may push each other around for territory. And even once we’ve decided on our form of expression, or once a form has a chosen us, there is an endless number of forks in the road (and short cuts and scenic routes and flowers to smell) until we’ve eventually, hopefully, carved out a unique perch, or hole, where we can get to work.

    All writers do share one common thread, though. Under any form, at any stage, for any purpose, we are all obviously engaging in a writing process. How we get from one word to the next, from one sentence to a paragraph, piling lines on to the page, hammering and ironing the text until it at least resembles an original vision, is always and necessarily a mysterious and personal process.

    The more we understand our own processes, regardless of form, the better chance we have of unleashing the full power of language. Here at the Nook we have been analyzing different approaches to the act of writing and assembling them into convenient metaphorical categories.

    So far, we’ve got 3:

    1. The Gardener

    Plants a seed, nurtures the soil.

    Requires great patience.

    Must tolerate dry season.

    2. The Over-Night Truck Driver

    At night, headlights on to illuminate the road, grips the wheel and drives forward.

    No stopping until the next town, or morning.

    3. The Fisherman

    The important thing is to keep the line in the stream, always.

    Always prepared for a bite and willing to throw a few back.


    Each metaphor requires and will receive its own clarification in a separate blog post. Hopefully we’ll get there before winter. Until then, does your process resemble one of these?

    If your process isn’t on our list, leave a comment and tell us how you write.

    And we can't leave here without mentioning some of the best inspirational books for writers. Click the covers to find one at your local branch.


    The Secret Miracle

    How to Write