‘With difficulty and labour hard': Representations of the writer at work

Lee-Price, Simon (2017) ‘With difficulty and labour hard': Representations of the writer at work. In: Bucks Rehearsal Room, 22 November 2017, Buckinghamshire New University. (Unpublished)

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George Orwell famously described writing a book as a ‘horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illnesses’. For John Henry Newman, writing was ‘a great pain, pain, reaching to the body as well as the mind’. Writers who express themselves on the subject are more inclined to stress the agony and effort involved in crafting text than the pleasure or moments of inspiration they may experience. Guidebooks aimed at students typically warn readers they will find writing assignments to be a difficult and probably unpleasant undertaking. In this seminar, I will report on the preliminary stages of research that explores the question: Does the widely held view of writing as a painful struggle stem from something inherent in the act of writing itself or is it the product of specific discourses and historical circumstances? I will discuss, with examples, the various ways the experience of writing has been conceptualised in Western literature, art and film during different periods and make some reference to empirical studies of writers at work. I will also offer a brief assessment of the contributions psychology and psychoanalysis can make to our thinking about the creative process, particularly through the idea of ‘writer’s block’ and theories of ‘dream work’. The aim of the seminar is to outline work in progress and obtain cross-disciplinary feedback through focussed discussion. It should also provide insights into the way we think and talk about writing that may be helpful for participants’ own writing practice and for supporting student writing.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Depositing User: Dr Simon Lee-Price
Date Deposited: 17 Feb 2021 08:16
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2021 08:16
URI: https://bnu.repository.guildhe.ac.uk/id/eprint/18173

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