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.

Related post: the first apple computer: great ideas start rough!
jack kerouac’s crazy-wise advice + that improv scroll
pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling annotated: 13 rules for creatives
junot diaz on having a slow ‘creative metabolism’

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One thought on “john mcphee on ‘getting going’ and ‘finishing things’

  1. 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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