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Joan Didion’s Cure for Bankrupt Mornings by Krista

“All I know about grammar is its infinite power. To shift the structure of a sentence alters the meaning of that sentence, as definitely an inflexibly as a position of a camera alters the meaning of the object photographed. Many people know about camera angles now, but not so many know about sentences. The arrangement of the words matters, and the arrangement you want can be found in the picture in your mind. The picture dictates the arrangement.”

-Joan Didion, “Why I Write,” New York Times, December 5th 1976

The Daily Post

Joan Didion in 2005. Photo by Kathy Willens/Associated Press Joan Didion in 2005. Photo by Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Sometimes words fly from your fingers into the keyboard, the ink runs from your pen in a continuous flow, and your imagination fills the screen or page as if by magic. Sometimes when you sit down to write, inspiration is absent or obstinate, hiding and refusing to surface. American author Joan Didion refers to these times as “bankrupt mornings.” She counsels writers on keeping a notebook as a prophylactic against truant inspiration:

See enough and write it down, I tell myself, and then some morning when the world seems drained of wonder, some day when I am only going through the motions of doing what I am supposed to do, which is write — on that bankrupt morning I will simply open my notebook and there it will be, a forgotten account with accumulated interest, paid passage back to the world…

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Author:

Saada Branker is a freelance features writer and copy editor putting words to work. Her home-based business, Saada STYLO, offers organizations and businesses different writing and editing services. A Ryerson University journalism graduate, Saada specializes in delivering clean copy and is guided by her recorder, dictionary, and bank of ideas. She seeks other nomads of different cultures, shoe sizes, opinions, and experiences to keep her focused as a features writer, forever documenting for posterity.

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