Someone called “Writing Prompter” suggests this way of writing an essay : Pick up anything in your house with text on it that isn’t a book or magazine, then “Freewrite for fifteen minutes, recording as many words and phrases from the objects as you can, and taking note of any connections, associations, or themes that may arise. Then write an essay about what you find.”

As an editor, let me say, in case any of you are thinking of trying this: Don’t. Just don’t. Or if you have to, don’t send it to an editor whose inbox can be depressing enough already, especially if he edits a literary journal. There are people whose thoughts on random texts will be interesting and then there are the other 99.9%.

Most writers need to be drawn out of themselves to write well. They need to engage something that pushes back, something that provides a subject and meaning they can develop, interrogate, criticize, praise, etc. When they look within themselves, which is essentially what Writer Prompter is asking . . . let’s just say there’s a reason for the image of the bleak-faced editor sitting at his desk as the sky outside his window darkens reaching for his bottle of scotch.

Thanks for the link to Micah Mattix’s Prufrock newsletter .

Articles by David Mills

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