Looking at Writers and Writing
By Jack Limpert
The Sunday New York Times Book Review has fun today with writers and writing. Some glimpses:
Colson Whitehead makes fun of any list of rules about writing with “How to Write.” He has 10 rules (among them “Don’t go searching for your subject, let your subject find you,” “Write what you know,” “Never use three words when one will do,” etc.) that he mostly laughs at. An example: “Rule No. 7: Writer’s block is a tool—use it. When asked why you haven’t produced anything lately, just say, ‘I’m blocked.’ Since most people think that writing is some mystical process where characters ‘talk to you’ and you can hear their voices in your head, being blocked is the perfect cover for when you just don’t feel like working. The gods of creativity bless you, it’s out of your hands, and what not.” Whitehead’s Rule No. 11 is “There are no rules. If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?”
Writer’s Block: When the Words Won’t Come
By Jack Limpert
I’ve worked with lots of writers and the worst case of writer’s block involved one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. When we hired him at The Washingtonian, he had come from the museum world. He had a great education and interesting mind and he got off to a promising start. After about a year he began to freeze up and miss deadlines. We both knew this couldn’t go on very long.
Then one afternoon he came in, looking happy, and said, “Jack, we’ve figured it out. I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist. He says it’s either fear of success or fear of failure.”
What Works in One City Magazine
What Kind of Magazine Is It?
The Washingtonian is a city magazine-it focuses almost exclusively on the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine was started in October 1965, and its ABC circulation is over 150,000, including 50,000 copies sold each month on area newsstands.
Our readers are concentrated in the District, in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland, in Arlington and Fairfax counties and the city of Alexandria in Virginia, and in Loudoun and other counties surrounding the metropolitan area. About 75 percent of our readers live in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs, 15 percent in the District, and 10 percent outside the metro area.