Driving Lessons from E.L. Doctorow


Continuing with my current theme of discussing quotes by famous writers, here's one for you from E.L. Doctorow (RagtimeBilly Bathgate, other best sellers):  "Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."

(Note:  Doctorow died in 2015 from injuries sustained in an auto accident one foggy night after striking a deer.) Actually I just made up how Doctorow died - sorry.

He makes a good point. It's implied that good, working headlights and a reasonable speed are also necessary to reach one's destination on a foggy night. But the reference to writing fits. Sometimes one has to just put down one word after another. You don't have to know exactly where you're going, you see. You have to allow your story to surprise you, which is great fun when it happens. But just because it's foggy out there, it doesn't mean you have to pull up and wait. You'll never reach your destination that way.

If you're writing and you feel like you're fogged in, go ahead, take a bit of a chance and turn on your headlights and creep forward a little, then a little more, and then some more. One word after another. What emerges from the fog might not be a deer in your headlights to avoid, but a beautiful idea that helps bring into clearer focus the destination of your work.