I’m sure there are writers who don’t find writing to be a bone-crushing, nausea-inducing festival of self-loathing. I just don’t happen to be one of them. Faced with a blank screen, I am invariably seized with the overwhelming desire to clean out my garage, give myself a root canal -- do anything other than write.
The problem seems to be standards. I have some. And I’m terrified I can’t live up to them. Does that sound familiar? I’ve found that to avoid paralysis, I have to begin by telling myself, “Don’t write, just type.”
Because once the story is out there, even in a horrifyingly inarticulate form, the real work can begin. I can see where the words are working, and where they’re not. The ideas that should be in the piece, but aren’t, speak loudly with their silence. The awkward phrases swell up and stink. The good ones hum.
This is the fun part, especially when someone else has done the miserably hard work of writing the first draft. It’s why I’m a good editor, and why I love editing.
And that’s why I can help you, as I’ve helped innumerable writers over 25 years as an author and editor of Pulitzer Prize winning journalism and best-selling books. I’ve worked with some of the biggest names in journalism and fiction, but I’ve also worked with hundreds of regular folks who have never published a word, but had a compelling story to tell. In the end, the most powerful thing I’ve learned is this: it is always about the story.
So if you have one you want to improve, or are struggling to tell, click the contact button above, and let the fun begin.
As I was leaving the Post in 2009, joining forces with Brigid Schulte to conceive and produce the book that became Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When There’s No Time was my first editing project. I remember telling my terrific agent Gail Ross about it and urging her to take a look. (She did, and [...]
After Brigid Schulte published an article in The Washington Post Magazine about her run-in with a time-use expert who told her that in the life she experienced as overwhelmingly hectic, she actually had 30 hours of leisure time a week, I urged her to write a book-length exploration on the subject. We agreed to meet [...]