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Portal Blog

You Owe It to Yourself to Write

The cover of Karl Ove Knausgaard's 'So Much Longing in So Little Space'

Are you a writer? Perhaps you are not published in literary magazines or negotiating a book deal, but if an hour spent creating a literary work (however infrequently this may occur) is one of the most rewarding hours of your week, then you owe it to yourself to write.

Though you may be busy with classes, or a suffocating work schedule, dependents, significant others, needy friends, or daily chores, that is no excuse. According to Karl Ove Knausgaard—author of 6 books in 3 years—being busy is the ideal condition for writers.

In a recent interview with Joshua Rothman of The New Yorker, Knausgaard observed “It’s strange that, with three small children and limited time, I wrote so many pages a day while, before, when I spent all the time I wanted on writing, and even lived on isolated islands and in remote lighthouses, I hardly wrote anything.”

As counterintuitive as this might seem, you’ve probably all experienced the truth of his words—a day set aside for writing frittered away, and an entire creation written in two hours before a midnight deadline.

“When I wrote my first novel—I was nineteen—I did it very quickly. If you write fast, you feel like you’re entering something not yet familiar—a world rather than thoughts about the world.

“I started to polish the car instead of driving it—and, obviously, when you polish your car, you don’t get anywhere, no matter how nice the car looks.” It’s tempting to “polish the car,” edit rather than write, and though editing is crucial to the writing process, you can’t polish the car you don’t have.

So embrace the fact that you are busy, then to give yourself a firm deadline to write, to submit, and then to write again.

– Braedan Zimmer, Fiction Editor

A hand holding a pen, writing on the top sheet of a stack of papers. A cup sits beside the stack. The fingers of another hand are wrapped around its handle.

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