Posted by: faultlessfinish | May 6, 2013

Writing: Art or Science?

“People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.” – Harlan Ellison

I’ve always loved the “idea” of being a writer, an artist, painting with words, but what of the science? Sounds, syllables in symbiosis.
I love the idea of perfecting the craft, but what of the real work,
the truth behind the romance, the “starving writer”?

All you writers, do you require a push, the rush of deadline, readership?
Promise of riches?
Is poetry your calling, non-fiction, or do you want to create characters,
fiction out of thin air?
Do you work to uncover, archaeologist style, the story beneath the dream? I have no aching urge to tell a story.
Rather, to sort life out on the page, piece by piece.

I’m a musician, understand patience, frustration in practice.
Symphonies are not spontaneous, flowing from desire alone.
Note by tedious note,
the effect appearing . . . effortless.

Late-night smoky-bar writing sessions. Or
home, dirty coffee mug, lazy pants. Or
tea on 4th street. The art is not in the atmosphere but in the science of the words,


All you writers – is writing an art or a science for you? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Song of the week: “It Is Not Meant To Be” – Tame Impala (Perfect summer weekend song)

Namaste 🙂


Sandy Beach


  1. Writing requires a great deal of both art and science – the art or inspiration needed to begin writing the words, and the science of knowing how to string those words together so that others may clearly understand what it is you are saying. Art without science is gibberish and science without art is unemotional. There needs to be a good combination of the two.

  2. I don’t think I could say it any better than Sue. The pursuit of writing most definitely is an artistic venture. I do think of words in a musical way and try to paint pictures with them too. However, without the science, the technical aspect of the craft, structure and meaning might be greatly lacking. Here’s to the art and science of writing!

    • Well said, Sue and Gwen! I love the imagery of painting pictures with words in a musical way.

  3. I enjoy the exercise some writing gives to both sides of the brain. I teach the writing of traditional poetry forms where you have to be a mathematician plotting out rhyme schemes and mapping your way down the page to write to the form. And you have to be the artist hoping the muse will fill in the gaps between the rhyming ends of lines in your sonnet or villanelle.

    • I find myself wanting to learn more and more about traditional poetry forms, Frank. Great poetry, like music, is very mathematical. Thanks for reading!

  4. […] a Rejection Letter to a University and Some Thoughts on Photography Freelancing to Freedom – Writing: Art or Science? Matilda Magtree – a moment of […]

  5. I actually remember a line I read somewhere, “Love is like playing the piano. First you must learn to play by the rules, then you must forget the rules and play from your heart.”
    So I guess the same goes for every form of art, for writing as well. 🙂

  6. […] friend of mind posted this on her blog today: “Writing: Art or Science?” In her post, she asks whether writing is an art or a science, as the title would suggest […]

  7. The art is there in the science. As Chetan said, “first know the rules” this give you a place to start. After that it’s up to you, I write poetry because I think in that short, imagist way. Small lines or ideas that curl around, stretch out and then take form. I start with ideas, then take away so much I worry if I have left the idea, add things again, fuss over the details. And so it goes on, the art is in the feeling behind it. The science in making it understandable, very thought provoking post. Makes me ponder.


  8. Thanks for your thoughts, Jim. I’ve been pondering the idea all week as well. Striking a balance between science and art seems especially important in poetry.

  9. It’s an art perfected by science and self discipline.

  10. […] into this week’s post, I want to invite you to read Aly Gulamhusein’s response to “Writing: Art or Science?” He poses new questions to ponder on the topic. Thank you to all who provided their […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: