The not writing method of writing

After Katharine Weber published her sixth novel, Michael Silverblatt asks her on his podcast Bookworm, “Do you have secret methods?”

Well, Michael, probably my number one secret method is the not writing, and how much not writing I do that is part of my writing process, if I can use as grand a word as process. So it’s actually only when the not writing is even worse than writing that I am driven back to it.

I also enjoyed this characterization of how she learned to write, alluding to the title of her latest novel.

“Monkey see, monkey do” is probably a reasonable way of describing how I taught myself to write because I don’t have an MFA. I don’t actually have a college degree. I didn’t actually finish high school. So really, reading is how I taught myself to write… Reading novels led me to have a sense of the kind of novel I would like to write, which is the kind of novel I would like to read.

I write it down so I don’t have to remember it

In the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Henry Jones — Indiana’s father — finds the key information needed to safely traverse a perilous journey to retrieve the Holy Grail.

Professor Henry Jones: Well, he who finds the Grail must face the final challenge.

Indiana Jones: What final challenge?

Professor Henry Jones: Three devices of such lethal cunning.

Indiana Jones: Booby traps?

Professor Henry Jones: Oh, yes. But I found the clues that will safely take us through them in the Chronicles of St. Anselm.

Indiana Jones: [pleased] Well, what are they?


Indiana Jones: Can’t you remember?

Professor Henry Jones: I wrote them down in my diary so that I wouldn’t *have* to remember.

[Dialogue is documented at]

Just yesterday, I wrote to a colleague asking for information, and he pointed me to a blog post that I wrote two months ago. I often keep my research findings straight, but — to adapt from Henry Jones — I write them down so that I don’t have to remember them! As University of Chicago professor Linda Ginzel tells her students, “If you don’t write it down, it doesn’t exist.”

In honor of the senior Dr. Jones, I made this little reminder…