Nicholas Mancusi Recommends...

“I find that the hardest work of my writing is done in my subconscious brain, somewhere in the back of my skull far out of the reach of my control. So if I am stuck, if the proper image or plot point has not yet been presented to me, it usually means that other brain functions are in the way, namely the nervous, anxious, day-to-day processes required for moving throughout the world. The best method I’ve found to tamp these down is through brute force, by exerting the body to such an extent that the functional portions of the brain are quieted, and the deeper artistic areas are allowed to express themselves. I spend a good two hours in the gym doing dead lifts, and then as much time in the sauna as I can bear. A very strenuous run, hike, or other physical activity will also suffice; the important thing is that the body should beg for mercy. Then, after a shower, I listen to drone metal through headphones to drown out any residual thoughts that may have survived the onslaught. Later, back in my apartment, totally depleted and on the verge of sleep or collapse, I’ll finally be shown what needs to be written, and with my last shred of strength I’ll haul myself to the nearest notebook.”
—Nicholas Mancusi, author of A Philosophy of Ruin (Hanover Square Press, 2019)