Eliot Duncan Recommends...

When I’m stuck, I let myself be stuck. I don’t put imperatives on how many pages I need to generate or what being a writer looks like. I’ve learned not to fixate on the stuck-ness. I allow myself the breath and time to simply not write. So much of writing to me is about patience and allowance. Life can feel gorgeously long so I try to avoid strictness when I’m not writing. Adding that kind of pressure pushes me further from the page. The more I accept myself wherever I am, the more I am brought to insights, slants, ideas, lines, and descriptions. The more I accept, the deeper I can go when I am writing.

Music is also a good tool when I feel ambivalent about writing. Writing about music is good, too, because like music, writing is a physiological project. It all begins with sensation for me. Music is a direct way to drop into that. Writing is a thing I do because I love doing it. I try to stay in that mindset, even when I’m not writing. That way I can relax, and stay open and attentive to the daily currents that have always returned me to the page.
—Eliot Duncan, author of Ponyboy (Norton, 2023)