Now, in my retirement, I am a perpetual reader. Not only of fiction, but also non-fiction, mainly books about the craft of storytelling. And there is an abundant supply of advice on how to strengthen your writing. Besides books you can touch, there are e-books, blogs, YouTube snippets and formal courses. The Teaching Company, college level lectures, are excellent. And podcasts. I’ve recently discovered Spotify, which is a goldmine for my listening to music, from classical to the newest craze, and has a treasure of podcasts. Scanning these, I’ve discovered a rare gem. It’s a collection of 37 talks about writing: ‘Inside Creative Writing’ by Brad Reed.
Reed is a teacher of creative writing. He lives on the Oregon coast and still drives a ’66 VW Beetle, called Lucy. I downloaded all 37 episodes, listened to his voice on my way to Florida, a couple of days there, and finished the cycle on my way back to Chapel Hill. And what a delight it was! His talks are well organized, his voice is soothing, and his arguments clear and convincing. Listening to his last 37th episode was like listening to the 45th ‘Farewell’ symphony by Haydn, where during the last Adagio all instrumentalists, one by one, walk out the stage, each blowing out the candle on the way out. I only wish his work would be available in the form of a book, so I could gift it to my friends.
But there was another reason why I felt so close to him––Reed doesn’t think writer’s block exists. You’ve heard me right. He doesn’t. To find why, you must listen to episode #28. You won’t be disappointed. In case when the listener still thinks he suffers from this enigmatic illness, Reed gives him three remedies. But, please check it for yourself.
I’ll give you my reasoning. Writing is a creative process. It’s cyclical, not linear. The writing curve resembles a sinusoid, not a straight line. So the moments of having something to put on paper come in spurts, not as a constant flow. Reed cleverly gives an example of a plumber, who can’t blame his inability to work on ‘plumber’s block’. So what do I, when my writing well temporarily goes dry? I go to write something else; other pieces, a new blog, read another story, or the book about writing. Or just go swimming. Invariably, something always comes up.
But coming back to Brad Reed. Check the podcast at his website BradReedWrites.com, on Spotify and YouTube, and follow him on @BradReedWrites. You’ll thank me for the recommendation.