Monday Motivator: Philip Roth

“I turn sentences around.
That’s my life. I write a sentence and then I turn it around.
Then I look at it and turn it around again…”

— E.I. Lonoff
in “The Ghost Writer” by Philip Roth

That’s the glamorous life of a writer.  Writing, revising, repeating.  It’s also what I’ve been caught up in for the past five or so months … turning sentences around, then around again.  I like to think I’m making  progress, but sometimes I  wonder.  That’s another part of the glamorous life of a writer: Uncertainty.

The Monday Motivator is meant to motivate and inspire, but my commentary doesn’t seem very inspiring does it.  In fact, it feels pretty negative.  Maybe that’s why I turned to my blog today for the first time in months.  This writer is in need of some blogosphere love.   How about it folks?  Lay it on me! Share a tip or trick you use to keep going when the words have turned you inside, outside and upside down?

♦ ♦ ♦

The Monday Motivator is a quote posted on Mondays to encourage, inspire, and motivate writers of all skill levels and across genres.  If you have a favorite quote you’d like to share, let me know and I’ll post it here.  Click here to see past Monday Motivators.



11 thoughts on “Monday Motivator: Philip Roth

  1. When the words have me feeling like I’m hanging off a tree limb and hearing the sound of bark splintering, I pull out a well worn book with exercises in it, or use one of my own. Pull out a deck of magnetic poetry and play with words (or do it online, Pull out a dictionary and choose random words to weave together into a prose poem. Do an exercise of thirteen-ways-of-looking-at (what are you stuck on? a character? a plot point? the resolution of a poem?). Then do a freewrite. Or you might write a dialogue with your favorite writer. Channel him or her. What advice would that writer give you? Then credit yourself for dreaming it up . . . and get back to the words.

  2. I know what you mean….I’m rewriting website copy, walking away and rewriting it again. ugh. When stuck I just start writing steam of consciousness….what do I want to say? what if I could say it straight out – not all pretty like? usually I can rework those thoughts into something cohesive. I’m glad you turned to your blog – I’ve missed your posts …

    1. Thanks, Jude! I do the same thing … I stop writing and start talking. I imagine I’m talking to a particular friend and it helps! It takes a conscious effort to stay out of writing head, but the readability is worth it in the end.

  3. Welcome back to the Blogosphere Olivia. Your posts have been missed. I know exactly what you mean. I have been in exactly the same spot for the last couple of months as I put my current WIP through the editing paces. I agree with the advice that Kathleen gave you. I also use Morning Pages as prescribed by Julia Cameron. This is where you write 3 pages (it must be long hand and they must be A4 pages) of the first thoughts in your mind upon waking. This is pure stream of consciousness writing and it us amazing what this exercise an unlock. This is not an exercise where you choose your words carefully or go slowly picking them apart. It is meant to unlock your dreaming sub-conscious. Fresh air and the outdoors Also help be at these times. If you read my most current post in my Wrestling the Muse blog, it deals with falling out of love with your writing and what to remember to fall back in love.
    Good Luck Olivia and may the muse be kind to you as you are kind to your words.
    Shout out if you need any support.
    – Kim

  4. We have missed you, super post…when you write for work and hobby, rewriting can be the pits, deep ones. But for me, many projects keeps the rewriting flowing, just moving through each one keeps my mind thinking the pieces are fresh. I wish you much luck climbing back onto your blog groove! 🙂

  5. Hola, quizás os interese saber que tenemos una colección que incluye el relato ‘Defender of the Faith’ de Philip Roth en versión original conjuntamente con el relato ‘The Courter’ de Salman Rushdie.

    El formato de esta colección es innovador porque permite leer directamente la obra en inglés sin necesidad de usar el diccionario al integrarse un glosario en cada página.

    Tenéis más info de este relato y de la colección Read&Listen en

  6. Just getting my mind off of it for a time helps me. I’m writing a children’s book right now and I was getting sick of rewriting it so I took a break and decided to work on my novel. I only took a day or two off, but when I went back to it, I was able to look at it with a fresh eye and see more clearly what I liked and did not like about it. I also like to stare out my window for a break. I have a beautiful view of a pond and forest and I find nature relaxing and inspiring.

  7. When I’m that balled up (and I do spend a lot of time turning sentences around and then turning them back), I move over to something else and work on that, or (if the project is far enough along), I get some feedback on it. Perspective is always helpful.

    I was working on a book of mystery stories (I just talked about this on my blog), and I was so sick of fiddling with the punctuation that I sent it out to the beta readers ahead of schedule. So, no work on that one for a while, and I have four other projects to occupy me in the meantime.

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