I’ve been picking up a lot more serious art review work these days, which is a big honor. It’s one thing to write online, and another thing entirely to write reviews for print magazines.
Given the weight of the honor, I approach the task of writing them much more seriously. I go see the show, and then read everything that’s been written on the artist. Then I give myself a night to think about it. Usually, I have dream in which I’m writing various opening sentences. Sometimes, I’ll wake myself up as early as 5:30am, jump up, and start writing them down.
Usually, however, I’ll sit for a few hours when I wake up, and take notes on blank pieces of white copy paper. As I get closer to writing the review, I spread them out before me, in a straight line, so that I have access to them as I’m writing. Before I hand in the review to an editor, I re-read every piece of paper—usually 10 or 20 pieces—and make sure that the ideas I wanted to touch upon are in the final review. In a 500 word piece, this requires a pretty well-oiled filter.
Sometimes, if the ideas I’m having are particularly complicated, or if I’m having trouble finding an access point on where to begin, I’ll go get a manicure, or write a blog post. I sign out of my email and Facebook, however, and don’t allow myself to look at them again until I’m done writing.
Right before I write the opening sentence, I pace around my apartment for a few minutes, letting my nervous energy build up. Then, I’ll sit down, and finish it rapidfire, unless I really don’t have any opinion on the work—increasingly rare, the better schooled I am in thinking critically—in which case writing it takes 9 or 10 hours, and drains me for weeks.
This is clearly a procrastination post. Now, I’ll sit down, outline my thoughts, and let all of the work I’ve done non-verbally spill out of me.