Dani Shapiro, author of Still Writing, wrote “On Inquiry,” a short blog post in which she said she finally figured out how to respond to the question she’s asked over and over: “What are you working on?”
She tried responding, “I’m writing a book-length lyric essay” and “…a work of creative non-fiction,” but those answers sounded pretentious to her. She tried mumbling, “…a memoirish-type thing.” That seemed incoherent.
Then she landed on it.
“I’m writing an Inquiry.”
Everything I’ve ever written might be described as an inquiry. My novels all begin with questions – though these questions may not be ones I can articulate when I begin…The memoir aspects of Still Writing were an inquiry into what was formative for me as a writer. And now my questions have evolved into ones about marriage and time.
She says, “I write in order to discover what I don’t yet know.”
This idea has been expressed in different ways by different people. Today, I’m sharing American historian Daniel Boorstin’s version:
“I write to discover what I think.”
Essayists write for this reason. So do researchers and historians as well as many writers of fiction and creative nonfiction.
We can all approach at least some of our writing as inquiries, starting with a question that sends us off to read, write, think, discover.
A rich explanation for what writing can do…don’t you think?
I write to discover what I think.
— Daniel Boorstin
Source: Trimble, John R. Writing with Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing, Second Edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2000. 166. Print.
Browse the growing collection of Writing Quotes
Image design by Isabelle Kroeker.
Sure, you can poke around the Internet collecting writing prompts and creative writing exercises.
Or you could buy an ebook that collects them for you in one place.