Traditional Publishing

Five Writers on How Writing with Creative Constraints Unlocked Their Projects – Tuesday September 13, 2022

I have long been an anxious writer. Every sentence written reminds me of the hundreds more that could have stood in its place, missed opportunities for assonance or characterization, clauses left dependent that could have—should have—been made independent. Often it takes all the perseverance I can muster not to leap up and gaze out the window, or better yet, flip open a book by somebody who’s already figured it all out.

For me, the anxiety of writing is the anxiety of possibility. Musical performance—despite all its lore of stage-fright, jitters, and choking—has been my salvation. When performing in front of an audience, a wrong note can’t be taken back; the audience hears it immediately. I find this precariousness strangely freeing. Rather than obsessing over what was previously played, I’m forced to move forward, adapt, and accept my failings. Mistakes become opportunities; a wrong note may suddenly evoke some new cluster of tones I wouldn’t have found otherwise, or veer a solo into provocative territory.

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