Apparently I just found the answer to all our problems. Writer’s block? Cured. Awful prose? No more!
I’m reading If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland for my rhetoric class, and the preface made me blink like five times in a row. Wow. So I’m going to run it by you, just because I’m not so sure I know what to think.
Brenda says in the preface:
“I think this book will show you how I freed [my students] from clouds of automatic verbiage, from “uninterstingness.” When you get the hang of it, you will work at your writing freely, pulled toward it in fascination. You will work for hours, months, years. Novels and plays will stream out. You will never be working from grim, dry willpower but from generosity and the fascinating search for truth…
“This is the whole secret of enchantment, fascination…”
“This is the best book ever written about how to write.”
Well. What else can I say? In about a semester, I will be completely changed, transformed, and fired up. I will be able to write and write and write forever —
Maybe this is just an intial burst of (twenty first century) cynicism that Ms. Ueland (born in 1891) would hugely disapprove of. But. I am doubtful of Ms. Ueland’s claims. Certainly it’s possible to learn new things from books about writing, to be refreshed and excited, challenged and stretched. But seriously, is it possible to be taught how to become a never-ending flow of words? Is it possible to always, always be psyched about writing and words and characters? Cause…so far my writing experience has been a lot of ups and even more downs.
I’m willing to reconsider. But I’m skeptical. What do you think? Will Brenda Ueland’s book solve all our problems? If so, how?