john mcphee on ‘getting going’ and ‘finishing things’

John McPhee Reader

In a recent New Yorker, award-winning journalist and FABULOUS writer John McPhee wrote the best advice we’ve read for aspiring writers, and for just about anyone dealing with a creative ‘block’. The 4th Draft offers plenty of useful chunks and techniques, but our very favorte snipped  is an exchange McPhee had with his daugher Jenny, a novelist.

Jenny said, “I can’t seem to finish anything.”

I said, “Neither can I.”

Then I went back to my own writing, my own inability to get going until five in the afternoon, my animal sense of being hunted, my resemblance to the sand of Gibralter.

We found McPhee’s words deeply heartening as we sit here at 11:36 pm writing this post, wondering where the day has gone.


If you’re new to McPhee’s work, check outThe John McPhee Reader: eleven of his books in one.

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One Response to john mcphee on ‘getting going’ and ‘finishing things’

  1. Mary Kelly 07.17.2013 at 4:46pm #

    That reminds me of Anne Lamott – she is hilarious, pragmatic and really smart – she says you have to do shitty first drafts and just keep doing them . . .

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