Tools for Writers: "Acts of Writing" by Shawn Levy

On Writing

Shawn Levy, Oregonian Film Critic and Adjunct Fellow at the Attic Institute

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I think of writing as partly an athletic act, partly a curatorial act, partly labor, and partly (and this may be the biggest part) gratifying pleasure.

Like many writers, I suspect, I am fond (overly, probably) of turning out sentences that delight the ear and mind, that allude to other sentences I've read and loved, that balance sense and rhythm in ways simultaneously simple and complex.

At a certain level, writing is more sensual than intellectual for me; I can't be happy with it unless it conveys pleasure of some sort, more often, I think, in the shape than in the substance.  

At another level, I feel that writing needs to connect obviously to ordinary human thought and speech; it can be complicated but should never be abstruse.  

And, perhaps most of all, writing needs to flow, if not in the composition then -- without exception -- in the apprehension.  Somehow you can dance to good writing; it sings to you, it swings you, it has a beat and a sense of play.  

And sometimes, when you're very, very, very fortunate, you can dance as you write it.