When I teach freshman writing, my first job is to destroy my students' illusions. TV shows and films give them the dangerous idea that great authors just wait to get inspired, and then genius pours out of their pens in an unstoppable flood. The reality is different. Writers—especially the great ones—mostly sit at desks feeling rotten, struggling to write crumpled sentences that they can smooth into something acceptable. (This may be part of the reason that writers have higher rates of substance abuse, depression, and suicide). The science fiction writer Kurt Vonnegut wrote hilarious, poignant novels like Slaughterhouse Five, Breakfast of Champions, and Galapagos. But most days he didn't feel like a poignant genius. "When I write," Vonnegut said, "I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth."