Last Word

Sink or swim: Choose your writing fate


All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.

–F. Scott Fitzgerald

(Flickr: Rafael)

(Flickr: Rafael)

What little bit of wisdom can be fished out of this gem from Fitzgerald, one of the great writers of the 20th century?

For some of us, swimming under water and holding your breath take a considerable amount of courage.

Read: On finding your writing sweet spot

Dive in and you risk peril should you strike a shallow bottom or not resurface in time to gasp for air. And there is a possibility that you’ll encounter some strange, dangerous creature the deeper you go.

So, we all have found ourselves dipping in our toes, testing uncertain waters before stretching out our arms and jumping headlong into the unknown.

Beyond that, as most swimmers can attest, the act of submersing into a cool pool, pushing through tons of water with your arms, kicking your legs and holding your breath requires a great deal of skill and coordination.

Not everyone can do it.

As writers, we are charged with performing similar tasks when we write. We delve into our souls, push past fatigue and malaise, kick around ideas for brave new worlds — all the while looking for ways to hold our readers in rapt attention.

Staying below the surface, refusing to return to the top until every deep crevice has been explored also requires persistence and focus. Doing so means the difference between a writing career that sinks or swims.

Are you ready to take the writing plunge? What fears and challenges await you in the deep chilly waters? In which areas do you lack the skills and coordination to be a writer?

Kerri S. Mabee is managing editor at and founder of Breeze Media & Communications. Learn more about her at Follow @EducatedWriter.



Kerri S. Mabee

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