My favourite entry on The Blank Screen

Well, it’s my favourite today. As we approach the 1,000th article on The Blank Screen – and as we have exceeded 250,000 words – I’ve been compiling a book. You’ve nominated articles, I’ve studied the statistics and I’ve just re-read everything. It’s been rather fun but sometimes you read something now in a very different way to how you saw it at the time.

That’s happened with one particular piece and right now this is one reason I’m calling it my favourite.

Originally, I wrote this short piece about how writer Dar Williams basically disagrees with everything I say:

I’ve said this before: I wouldn’t kill to write like songwriter Dar Williams, but I’d maim. She has a fine and long body of work, a now substantial discography but interestingly, she’s against being disciplined and productive.

Dar Williams: I don’t force lines, and I don’t force myself to write every day, and somehow out of that came seven albums that don’t, to me, feel forced. And that’s the only thing I’ll boast about is that there’s nothing about it that to me sounds like I said, “I have to write for 2 hours a day,” with lines where there were no inspiration.

Dar Williams on Productivity and Creativity – William Gallagher, The Blank Screen (15 July 2014)

That did and that still does tickle me: a woman whose writing I admire and rate, an artist who has produced a considerable body of work, fundamentally disagrees with what I say about getting on with it.

Except now, just five weeks later, I re-read that and instead what has had me thinking all day is this other quote from her in the same piece:

Dar Williams: Well, when I was in college, I put a stick-it on my computer, which was huge, that said, “Whatever you do is enough.” I had totally lost my mind, and I was coming back from that. So I would say to myself, you know, you’re supposed to do a ten-page paper, if you do one page you’ll get a D+. If you do two pages, you’ll get a C-, or if you do three pages you’ll get a C-. So that’s all better than an F, so why don’t you do a page?

At times I don’t do anything because I don’t think I can finish it or because I don’t think I can do it well enough. But she’s right, isn’t she? Doing something, it’s always better than not doing anything.

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