How Golf Writers Write

Tom Coyne, M.F.A.
Associate Professor of English

Quick Facts

Favorite word?

Favorite music to write to?
None. Silence.

Favorite place to write?
Coffee shops in Europe, but I hate how pretentious that sounds.

SJU Writes: How do you start your writing process? How do you get into the mindset?
TC: The way I start any writing session is just going through yesterday’s work and cleaning that up a little bit which leads me into what I want to do today. But in terms of timing and when, I’ve had to get a lot better at just starting whenever I have a moment because now I have kids and a family. Staying up all night and waiting for inspiration doesn’t fly anymore. It was a great luxury when it did.

SJU Writes: How do you overcome things like writer’s block?
TC: Writer’s block is funny. I’ve never really had experience with this thing where I sit down and can’t write anything. Touch wood. That’s never been my experience. I’ve had good writer’s block, where I’m just writing crap or things that will never see the light of day or things I’m not happy with. In terms of just sitting down and not writing, that’s just never really felt like an option to me.

SJU Writes: What do you mean by good writer’s block?
TC: I’ve been blocked from writing anything that I feel is going be good. I’ve certainly experienced that where I feel like I’m in a rut just spinning my wheels. Or I’m just working on something that I know is going nowhere. I’ve experienced that, but at least I’m still writing. At least I’m still getting something on the page. Even if I just find a sentence or two that’ll be part of something else, or will lead me off into another direction. The idea of sitting there and saying ‘I have writer’s block, so I’m not writing’ is a cop out. Writing is work, and other people don’t show up to their job and say ‘I just can’t work today.’ You just slog on. If we all sat around and waited for the perfect story, the perfect sentence or the perfect paragraph or the perfect chapter, if we’re not going to write till we have that, we wouldn’t write at all.         

SJU Writes: You just have to keep at it?
TC: You just have to keep at it. The writers who’ve ever taught me anything, or that I really admire, are writers who always kept at it.

—Rob Roy, ’19