Leah Hampton Recommends...

“Whenever I’m stuck, I call up a friend. Not to chat or commiserate, but to work. Specifically, to do their work. My only reliable solution for writer’s block is to set aside my draft and pick up someone else’s.

My chapter sucks. Hey Laura, send me your latest chapter.
I’m bored with my research. Hey Sindya, need a fact checker?
I don’t want to write today. Hey Robyn, here’s why you should write today.

Writing is a social job, not a solitary one. Inspiration comes from the collective, the story hive mind, from the big, ancient river of lore, tale, and legend that every human being is genetically hardwired to visit. We must nurture this collective and remember we’re all paddling the same waters, all telling tales together. So I set deadlines for my friends, edit their manuscripts, buy them cool pens. When I hit a wall, I help another writer in need. Their work matters just as much as mine. Acts of service help me tap in to that collective, and it can only follow that by respecting others’ work, I will soon feel respect and joy again for my own project. In other words, any time I feel I’ve lost or forgotten them, I try to be kind to stories. And then, like a blessing, stories return to me.”
—Leah Hampton, author of F*ckface and Other Stories (Henry Holt, 2020)