John Ashbery had been to see a shrink who specialized in writer’s block. The conversation he reported:
Shrink: So tell me what your daily schedule is.
Ashbery: Well, I wake up and get up and –
Shrink: You do what?
Ashbery: I get up—
Shrink: You must never, never get up. Okay, pee and make a cup of coffee, but then get back in bed if only for half an hour every day and write longhand in a notebook.
Shrink: That way your inhibitions will still be low and you’ll be closer to your dreams. That’s the surefire way out of writer’s block
I followed the shrink’s advice. I didn’t have writer’s block but…I knew I had to keep on writing or else I’d let the ambient cultural noise drown out my thoughts, which weren’t paraphrasable wisecracks or wisdom but rather a way of looking at the world of the self. French people dismiss the cultural chatter and self-centered attitudinizing of Paris as parisianisme. A similar noise is generated by hip New Yorkers, though we don’t have a word for it and perhaps we haven’t isolated it yet as a reprehensible phenomenon. This “newyorkism” is so opinionated, so debilitating, so contagious with its knowingness, its instant formulas that replace any slow discoveries, that only people who are serious and ponderous can resist its blandishments, its quick substitutes for authenticity. No wonder the psychiatrist had said one should write first thing in the morning – before the tide of newyorkism swept over one, washing away actual honest thought and replacing it with trendy pronouncements.
– Edmund White, City Boy