IMG_1124I stumbled on this piece from last year on The Guardian by Lincoln in the Bardo author George Saunders on “what writers really do when they write.” After five books, I continue to wonder that myself, so I clicked. There’s so much good insight, I wanted to tweet almost every line, but instead I’ll give you some of my favorites here and encourage you to go read the entire thing:

This quote from novelist Donald Barthelme: “The writer is that person who, embarking upon her task, does not know what to do.”

“What a pleasure it is to be, on the page, less of a dope than usual.”

On revision: “Like a cruise ship slowly turning, the story will start to alter course via those thousands of incremental adjustments. … The artist, in this model, is like the optometrist, always asking: Is it better like this? Or like this? … Revising by the method described is a form of increasing the ambient intelligence of a piece of writing.”

More on revision, because professional writing is almost all revision: “What does an artist do, mostly? She tweaks that which she’s already done.”

“Any work of art quickly reveals itself to be a linked system of problems.”