What’s the Best Type of Writer?

What would Ron Carlson say?

At any reading or author event, writers are battered with questions about their process and the “best” way to write. These questions might be insightful and occasionally helpful, but what seems like the true method to one writer may be utter madness to another.

Writing for The Wall Street Journal, novelist Alex Shakar says beneath the superficial inquiries (Pencil or pen? Music or silence? Coffee or whiskey?) “lurk deeper questions about the process of writing.”

In his essay, “Scientists Versus Mystics,” Shakar notes there are two types of writers, those with a plan and those without. While the two camps would seem to be as disparate as church and state, in reality, Shakar says, there’s a great deal of overlap. “For me, as the drafts progress, scientist and mystic tend to switch positions — plans and structures form in lightning flashes of insight, ground-level scenes get carefully calibrated and balanced.”

To read the rest of his essay, click here. And for anyone interested in abandoning the planning process, Ron Carlson’s book “

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Benjamin Samuel is the Online Editor of Electric Literature. He believes that endless procrastination is the only way to get things done.

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