Do You Use A Writing Crutch?


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Ray Bradbury said if you’re a real writer, you should be able to write anything.

It doesn’t matter if the spirit moves you to ink short stories or plays or poetry or even criticism. Nothing is beyond you.

Perhaps, but certain writers use crutches in their craft. Without them they feel ineffective.

Some write their nonfiction books entirely in longhand. They leave the transposition of the works to their computer-handy assistants.

Julia Cameron, lead writer of THE ARTIST’S WAY, promotes the use of pen and paper when doing “morning pages. ” These are errant scribbles that we get out of our system on a daily basis so more important contributions can flow through us. Cameron claims that you can’t quite get fully in touch with your SOURCE of inspiration, your muses, if you use computers.

The other day, I bought a beautifully bound tablet that fits into my hand. It has a nicely designed jacket, a red ribbon marker, and faintly lined blank pages within. It set me back the princely sum of eleven bucks at Pasadena’s Norton Simon Museum gift shop.

Normally, I use spiral bound notebooks that cost ninety nine cents, but I was in the mood to splurge and to have something more handsome to take along when I’m in the company of prospects and clients. Spiral notebooks scream, “Starving Student!” while this arty and pricier tablet seems to send a more upscale and refined message.

But it’s almost too pretty, too perfect the way it is. I haven’t used it yet because it seems to be waiting for me to express and capture something, well, monumental.

I caught myself staring at it a minute ago, and I recalled a weird conversation I had with an editor at a mid-sized publishing company that wanted to issue my latest self-help book.

She insisted on a minimum of 50,000 words, but she preferred 60,000 because she had a goal of pricing my book at $16.95.

Her logic eluded me. It seemed to say, readers buy books by the pound, instead of for the content.

Recall the fact that I just bought a tiny, BLANK book. I have to do the writing. There is a ZERO WORD COUNT, and I paid $11.00!

Obviously, some people don’t buy books by the word or for their girth.

I passed on the editor’s offer, opting instead to go with a different publishing house.

I guess it was Hemingway who insisted on using a Remington manual typewriter for his manuscripts, or was it Mickey Spillane, or both?

It was a fetish, a lucky charm, a machine that made their word factory rumble along.

I don’t think these blank books, no matter how beautifully bound, will ever become one of my serious writing tools.

Real writers want to spoil the nothingness, breathe some life into the vacuum.

If you're a creative type, anything so superficially beautiful, yet empty inside, is bound to break your heart.

Best-selling author of 12 books and more than 1,000 articles, Dr. Gary S. Goodman is considered “The Gold Standard" in negotiation, sales development, customer service, and telephone effectiveness. Top-rated as a speaker, seminar leader, and consultant, his clients extend across the globe and the organizational spectrum, from the Fortune 1000 to small businesses. He can be reached at:


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