McPhee’s Two Categories of Writers

Editors are counselors and can do a good deal more for writers in the first-draft stage than at the end of the publishing process. Writers come in two principal categories—those who are overtly insecure and those who are covertly insecure—and they can all use help. The help is spoken and informal, and includes insight, encouragement, and reassurance with regard to the current project; if you have an editor like that, you are, among other things lucky; and, through time, the longer you two are talking, the more helpful the conversation will be.

—From John McPhee’s book Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process
P.S. A Washingtonian experience that relates to the insecurity of writers:

The worst case of writer’s block I dealt with ended up in a psychiatrist’s office. The writer had a great education and interesting mind and got off to a promising start. After about a year he began to freeze and miss deadlines. We both knew this couldn’t go on very long.

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.”

Speak Your Mind