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How I Write — And You Can Too!

2,471 words

18th cent man writing painting [1]“Assume you are what you want to be. Walk in that assumption and it will harden into fact.” — Neville Goddard’s “Law of Assumption” (attributed to Anthony Eden)

“A man is, whatever room he is in.” — Bert Cooper’s supposed Japanese saying

“With such expert play-acting, you make this very room a theatre.” — Vandamm to Roger Thornhill, North by Northwest 

1. How to Write

As a frequent contributor to the Counter-Currents website, and having recently published my third collection under that imprint — with two more in the works — I was recently asked by an acquaintance, “How do you do it?”

This chap is himself a published author, whom I’ve reviewed here — favorably! — but this advice was for his 14-year-old-daughter; apparently, an age when parents’ advice is automatically discounted.

I had asked the same question of another Counter-Currents author just after my first book[1] was published; despite this, I still found it difficult to write — that is, to start and or finish a given essay.

With a quizzical look on his face, he replied along the lines of “I don’t understand the question. I just sit down and start writing.”

I took this to mean either he either had some kind of natural talent that left him beyond the understanding of us mere mortals, or else he was just blowing me off; either way, I just moved on.

Eventually, however, I realized that this was not only actual advice, but was indeed just the business. You write by sitting down and writing. Duh.

Unlike my fellow author, let me explain a bit.

Writing — as opposed to ranting — has always been a chore; in fact, I left a graduate program and transferred to a more practical trade school not only because the job prospects were better, but because I was utterly intimidated by the prospect of writing a dissertation.

That was in the age of manual typewriters, or, if you were rich or had access to a business office, electric ones. More recently, with the technical advances of this Modern Age of Ours, I discovered blogging, which, together with Word™ greatly simplified the whole writing and publishing process.[2] I could write up one of my rants and throw it out into space, and someone might actually read it!

One of those people was Greg Johnson, and after I started writing for Counter-Currents those blog posts began to expand to 30 to 70 pages lengths, the readability of which I leave to the reader to decide.

Anyhoo, after about a year Greg pointed out that we now had enough material for a book, and we should start working on editing it.

A book? How did that happen? Simple: I had sat down and written it.

And you can too. Think about it: if you can manage one page a day, every day, after one year, that’s 365 pages, a good-sized book by today’s standards, if not those of 19th-century German academics or Russian novelists. Every other day gives you around 180 pages, a tad slim but then I like short books, to read at least.

You simply have to develop the discipline of writing something every day; that’s what Trollope and Proust did, and look at how much they produced!

writingprocess [2]

One weird trick I might mention: I said write something every day. If you can’t think of anything to write about what you wrote about for the last five pages, write something else instead. Just write. Write a page or two for some other essay, start reviewing someone’s book. At any given time I may have three or four essays or reviews on the stove, moving from one to another as I think of something to say, or as what I’ve written in one place inspires something to say in another; sometimes the two essays turn out to belong together anyway.

And yes, some never get finished; but they might, someday, and in the interim, something else has been finished. All that counts is finishing something.

If you can’t write on something else, then just fiddle with the formatting and spellchecking; you’ll have to do it eventually, and so what if you do it three, four, ten times over and over in the course of writing one essay, instead of once at the end.

“Do the next thing” was the motto of Frederick Rolfe,[3] and although most of his problems were self-inflicted, read up on his life and contemplate all that he produced, while living in a gondola on an income paid in postage stamps, handwriting his manuscripts in five or six copies on vellum in multi-colored inks.[4]

As Dalí said:

Never trust in inspiration. You must work every day, every day, every day. Inspiration arrives through your work. It arrives through your involvement. I am a worker. A peasant. I work seventeen hours a day.[5]

2. Why I Write

Everyone whines about how books suck, but they don’t write any of their own. They whine about how the culture in general sucks, how society and the government suck, but they never try to write about it, and about what to do about.

If you really have something to say, just sit down and write it.

When I came to putting together that first book, I chose to dedicate it to two recently deceased influences. The influence of Alisdair Clarke, the late fixture of the UK alt-Right, shows itself most readily in the title essay, or “Manifesto,” along with the chapter on “Homosexuality, ‘Traditionalism’ and Really Existing Tradition.”

The influence of Brigit Brat can be seen not only in the chapter on “Fashion Tips for the Far from Fashionable Right,” but was more widespread and perhaps more profound. She was a kind of combination of Holly Golightly and Harper Lee to my Truman Capote, and without having made her accidental acquaintance, I would never have been fabulous enough to gain entry to the clubs — most especially Jackie 60 — where I not only acquired the idea of the importance of costuming for social movements, but perhaps would never had noticed how dance club door codes created what I called — using the downtown hipster meme of that time — Temporary Autonomous Zones, or what would today be called “implicitly White” spaces. From that nudge came the exploration of the suppressed, hidden, and denied role of homoeroticism on the Right (what Camille Paglia might call the natural inclination of the unnatural to the Right).

But the most important reason was that she had not just recently died, but died not from any one of a dozen or so bad life choices she had made over the years. (I don’t have to go into it, just imagine the worst you can . . . seriously.) She died, not in the gutter or prison, but in her parents’ snuggly upstate Currier & Ives kitchen, while cooking dinner for the family. She sneezed, violently, loosening a blood clot that led to a stroke that killed her in about two minutes.[6]

What’s my point?

I, or you, cher hypocrite lecteur, may be dead at any moment. And yet, unless you belong to a distressingly small group, you have been telling yourself that “I can’t write this because I could lose my job when some SJW reads this six months from now and calls up my boss.”

Well, you also could write it, and drop dead tomorrow, and you will have written your article and evaded sanction, so you’ll have won, won’t you?

It’s merely probable that you’ll lose your job, but it’s certain you can die at any moment. So, as Sir Thomas More was urged, trade a probability for a certainty, and act accordingly.[7]

In the words of Edina Monsoon’s PR Persons’ PR Awards Dinner of the Month Lunch award-winning anti-gloom campaign slogan:

Well it may not be all great and good, but it ain’t that bad, so cheer up world it may never bloody happen! [8]

Or, in the words of an even more un-PC PR guy:

I’m living like there’s no tomorrow, because there isn’t one.[9]

And that, as you can see, is the good news.[10]

3. How to Make Room for Your Writing

Speaking of Mad Men, my most recent book — and yes, another collection of articles, written page by page, day by day — deals with the show and the aims of its writers. [11] In her review,[12] Margot Metroland notes the influence of various post-War films on both the show and my book. I regret to admit that her mention of North by Northwest led me to view the film again, and I discovered a key image for the Mad Men series, which I had strangely missed the first time around. As your reward for reading so far, allow me to expand on this. And yes, it has to do with how you can write.

When Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) visits the hotel room supposedly occupied by the man he’s been mistaken for, George Kaplan, he enters surreptitiously, then summons the maid, who greets him as Mr. Kaplan.

Thornhill: How do you know I’m Mr. Kaplan?

Maid (giggles): Well, of course ya are. This is room seven ninety-six, isn’t it?

Thornhill is Kaplan, because he is in Kaplan’s room.

It had never occurred to me to link this to a key scene in Mad Men, despite making so much of it in my book:

Pete: I’m not imagining!

Bert: The Japanese have a saying: a man is, whatever room he is in. And right now, Donald Draper is in this room.[13]

Most commentators have read this as a statement of some kind of existential angst, the vertiginous (Vertigo!) sense of having no identity, symbolized by the opening credits in which the shadowy executive enters his office as the walls slide down and he is precipitated into empty space.

Nonsense. Notice the close conjunction of Bert’s “room” and Pete’s use of the word “imagining”? This is not existential dread but the Great Good News, enunciated in the Western Tradition from Plotinus to Blake to New Thought to Colin Wilson; to, for example, Neville Goddard, who describes how he learned from his guru how to get from New York to Barbados by moving in imagination from one room to another:

“If you are in Barbados, you cannot discuss the means of getting to Barbados.[14] You must actually live in Barbados in your imagination as though you were there — just as if — and view the world from Barbados. If you sleep in Barbados and view the world from Barbados, the means will appear, and you will go to Barbados. But as far as I am concerned, you are already in Barbados, because you desired it with intensity. All you had to do was simply to enter it; and you enter it now in New York City even though it is two thousand miles across water, — and you aren’t going to walk across water; but you enter Barbados and view the world from it. If you see the world from Barbados, then you have to be in Barbados.”

He did not explain to me then, but I learned later that man, being all imagination, is wherever he is in imagination.[15]

In other words, a man is, whatever room he is in. 

If all this sounds too New Agey, too airy-fairy, then I have news for you: you are doing it already. As William James says, to refuse to make a choice, is, ipso facto, to make a choice. If you aren’t telling yourself “I am a writer” then you are likely telling yourself “I can’t do this, this is impossible.” Whatever you choose to do, or not do, about it, the inner conversation goes on.[16]

Neville advises: don’t think to the end (“How can I, not being a writer, facing so many obstacles and disincentives, become one?”) but from the end (“I am a writer, what is my next step?” Then do it the next thing).

If I were a writer, what would I be doing right now?

Sitting at a keyboard, writing.

And look, I am!

Go and do likewise.


1. The Homo and the Negro: Masculinist Meditations on Politics and Popular Culture, ed. Greg Johnson (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012).

2. Constant Readers might imagine the difficulty of constructing one of my typically footnote-heavy essays thereby, although A. K. Coomaraswamy managed to do it; perhaps he had grad assistants to help?

3. It’s recursive, see, as my old logic professors would say; like that classic bit of graffiti from Belfast: “Fuck the Next Pope!”

4. “He was a confidence-man, pauper, tutor, blackmailer, paedophile, translator — and author of seven novels and a number of short stories. Rolfe was a trickster whose failed life stank to himself as to the few friends whom he had and betrayed. But he was a fascinating figure: a bore, but also a pseudo-Borgian freak whose vindictiveness and paranoia have deservedly become legendary.” — Martin Seymour-Smith Guide to Modern World Literature (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1975), vol. 1, pp. 302-3. See my “e-Caviar for the Masses!: Olde Books for the Downwardly Mobile Elite,” here [3].

5. Carlos Lozano and Clifford Thurlow, Sex, Surrealism, Dalí and Me: The Memoirs of Carlos Lozano, 2nd ed. (YellowBay.co.uk, 2011).

6. Brigit’s life in San Francisco has been incorporated into Yom Kippur a Go Go: A Memoir by Matthue Roth (Cleis Press, 2005)

7. More would retort that God’s posthumous judgment is even more certain, making the same point.

8. Absolutely Fabulous, Episode 3.4, “Jealous.” Ironically, this is a riposte to her hated rival, the unctuous Claudia Bing, who has just delivered to her adoring fans an eminently New Thought thought: “Why change the world when all you have to do is change people’s perceptions?” I suppose we are intended to think Claudia just a phony, while Edina’s frustration has led her to a genuine Moment of Clarity; hence, she is able to leverage it into a successful ad campaign — for Prozac.

9. Don Draper, Mad Men, Season 1, Episode 1, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.”

10. Prefer the good news of the Gospels? Take no thought for the morrow, what you will eat or wear.

11. End of an Era: Mad Men and the Ordeal of Civility (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2015).

12. “The Ordeal of Superficiality,” here [4].

13. Mad Men, Season 1, Episode 10, “Nixon versus Kennedy,” scene online here. The italics approximate Robert Morse’s odd line reading, the significance of which I can’t fathom. For more on this episode and Mad Men in general, see my collection End of an Era: Mad Men and the Ordeal of Civility.

14. A key point. You do not imagine the means, which are innumerable; that is for the world to decide. You imagine the end, the goal, as if it were already accomplished, and let the means take care of themselves.

15. Neville Goddard, “Gifts Bestowed by God,” lecture of 5/4/1971, online here [5].

16. “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.” Don Draper, Mad Men, Season 3, “Love Among the Ruins.” See Neville: “Control Your Inner Conversations.” Lecture of April 26, 1971; online here [6].