Saturday, April 4, 2009

Books -- Dripped, Not Written

Books are not actually "written."

They are dropped onto the page, one drop at a time, one day at a time. -By authors who know that, very small increments of writing are what actually create a book. Over time.

It's like this. A cold morning in December, and you want your cup of coffee. But a cone filter works slowly. Drip . . . drip . . . drip.

You check your cup once again, and see a millimeter of fragrant dark brown liquid pooling on the bottom.

It seems impossible that this could yield a whole cup of coffee -- even if you waited around for several weeks. Drip . . . drip . . . drip.

But it does.

Unbelievable as it seems, the drip . . . drip . . . drip method of filtered coffee actually works. You do get your cup of hot coffee.

And you will get your book written, using the same method.

Because, here's the thing. Dripping involves trust (yes, those words will accumulate).

It involves patience (focusing on the present day, not the future day).

And it involves persistence (keeping at it, drip after drip, day after day).

Drips, like words, accumulate. Amazingly well.

But you have to show up with your coffee mug, your cone filter, ground coffee, and boiling water to get your much-anticipated morning coffee. Just as you have to show up with your paper and pen to get your much-anticipated book.

You have to create a time to start dripping, slowly, one word at a time.

And you have to sit there, patiently, while you watch sentences take shape and form paragraphs. And paragraphs take shape and form pages . . . again and again and again. Drip . . . drip . . . drip.

It's that easy. And that hard.


  1. Laurel, what a great blog! You provide a calm voice of reason, sound advice, and good perspective. You're also a terrific writer, and a fellow Annie Dillard fan to boot! Can't wait to read more.

    Michelle Harvey

  2. Laurel,
    Thank you for giving voice to my experience - "Books are not actually 'written.' They are dropped onto the page, one drop at a time, one day at a time." Your words - had I read them while I was writing my book - would have been a great comfort! I wouldn't have been so hard on myself when the words dripped rather than flowed. Your message is such a nice counterpoint to the usual "faster is better" message that our society pushes.

  3. Coffee dripping through a filter to make a cup is a great metaphor for my writing. I am clipping a drawing of a coffee pot dripping, so I can remember and do this today...and tomorrow....and the next day.....drip, drip, the completion of my book!

  4. Laurel, I've just read your last three posts and feel as though I'm floating. Such beautiful words . . . such profound words with such simple meaning. You make it sound as though anyone can write and as though all of us should. Again, you're an inspiration! If we hadn't taken Blogging 101 at the same time, I never would have read your blog. I'm blessed!