I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they're going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there's going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don't know how many branches it's going to have, they find out as it grows. And I'm much more a gardener than an architect.
If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.
You don't start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it's good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That's why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.
10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer Write. Write more. Write even more. Write even more than that. Write when you don’t want to. Write when you do. Write when you have something to say. Write when you don’t. Write every day. Keep writing.
we write every day, we fight every day, we think and scheme and dream a little dream every day. manuscripts pile up in the kitchen sink, run-on sentences dangle around our necks. we plant purple prose in our gardens and snip the adverbs only to thread them in our hair. we write with no guarantees, no certainties, no promises of what might come and we do it anyway. this is who we are.
I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you,and that you will work with these stories from your life--not someone else's life--water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom. That is the work. The only work.
At one time I thought the most important thing was talent. I think now that — the young man or the young woman must possess or teach himself, train himself, in infinite patience, which is to try and to try and to try until it comes right. He must train himself in ruthless intolerance. That is, to throw away anything that is false no matter how much he might love that page or that paragraph. The most important thing is insight, that is ... curiosity to wonder, to mull, and to muse why it is that man does what he does. And if you have that, then I don't think the talent makes much difference, whether you've got that or not. [ Press conference, University of Virginia, May 20, 1957 ]
No writing is wasted. Did you know that sourdough from San Francisco is leavened partly by a bacteria called lactobacillus sanfrancisensis? It is native to the soil there, and does not do well elsewhere. But any kitchen can become an ecosystem. If you bake a lot, your kitchen will become a happy home to wild yeasts, and all your bread will taste better. Even a failed loaf is not wasted. Likewise, cheese makers wash the dairy floor with whey. Tomato gardeners compost with rotten tomatoes. No writing is wasted: the words you can't put in your book can wash the floor, live in the soil, lurk around in the air. They will make the next words better.
Writing is the dragon that lives underneath my floorboards. The one I incessantly feed for fear it may turn and devour my ass. Writing is the friend who doesn't return my phone calls; the itch I'm unable to scratch; a dinner invitation from a cannibal; elevator music for a narcoleptic. Writing is the hope of lifting all boats by pissing in the ocean. Writing isn't something that makes me happy like a good cup of coffee. It's just something I do because not writing, as I've found, is so much worse.
The mind I love most must have wild places, a tangled orchard where dark damsons drop in the heavy grass, an overgrown little wood, the chance of a snake or two, a pool that nobody fathomed the depth of, and paths threaded with flowers planted by the mind.
To all the talented young men who wander about feeling that there is nothing in the world for them to do, I should say: 'Give up trying to write, and, instead, try not to write. Go out into the world; become a pirate, a king in Borneo, a labourer in Soviet Russia; give yourself an existence in which the satisfaction of elementary physical needs will occupy almost all your energies.' I do not recommend this course of action to everyone, but only to those who suffer from the disease which Mr Krutch diagnoses. I believe that, after some years of such an existence, the ex-intellectual will fin that in spite of is efforts he can no longer refrain from writing, and when this time comes his writing will not seem to him futile.
There is only one thing a writer can write about: what is in front of his senses at the moment of writing... I am a recording instrument... I do not presume to impose story plot continuity... Insofar as I succeed in Direct recording of certain areas of psychic process I may have limited function... I am not an entertainer...
People who think that grammar is just a collection of rules and restrictions are wrong. If you get to like it, grammar reveals the hidden meaning of history, hides disorder and abandonment, links things and brings opposites together. Grammar is a wonderful way of organising the world how you'd like it to be.
1. Write like you’ll live forever — fear is a bad editor. 2. Write like you’ll croak today — death is the best editor. 3. Fooling others is fun. Fooling yourself is a lethal mistake. 4. Pick one — fame or delight. 5. The archer knows the target. The poet knows the wastebasket. 6. Cunning and excess are your friends. 7. TV and liquor are your enemies. 8. Everything eternal happens in a spare room at 3 a.m. 9. You’re done when the crows sing.
Being in the mood to write, like being in the mood to make love, is a luxury that isn't necessary in a long-term relationship. Just as the first caress can lead to a change of heart, the first sentence, however tentative and awkward, can lead to a desire to go just a little further.
you once said to would like to sit beside me while I write. Listen in that case I could not write at all. For writing means revealing one self to excess; that utmost of self-revelation and surrender, in which a human being, when involved with others, would feel he was losing himself, and from which, therefore, he will always shrink as long as he is in his right mind...That is why one can never be alone enough when one writes, why there can never be enough silence around one when one writes, why even night is not night enough.
Anyone moderately familiar with the rigours of composition will not need to be told the story in detail; how he wrote and it seemed good; read and it seemed vile; corrected and tore up; cut out; put in; was in ecstasy; in despair; had his good nights and bad mornings; snatched at ideas and lost them; saw his book plain before him and it vanished; acted people's parts as he ate; mouthed them as he walked; now cried; now laughed; vacillated between this style and that; now preferred the heroic and pompous; next the plain and simple; now the vales of Tempe; then the fields of Kent or Cornwall; and could not decide whether he was the divinest genius or the greatest fool in the world.
Swoopers write a story quickly, higgledy-piggledy, crinkum-crankum, any which way. Then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn’t work. Bashers go one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before they go on to the next one. When they’re done they’re done.
...kapag binisita ka ng idea, gana o inspirasyon, kailangan mong itigil LAHAT ng ginagawa mo para lang di masayang ang pagkakataon. Walang sandali lang o teka muna. Dahil pag lumagpas ang maikling panahong yon, kahit mag-umpog ka ng ulo sa pader mahihirapan ka nang maghabol.
Well, writing novels is incredibly simple: an author sits down…and writes. Granted, most writers I know are a bit strange. Some, downright weird. But then again, you’d have to be. To spend hundreds and hundreds of hours sitting in front of a computer screen staring at lines of information is pretty tedious. More like a computer programmer. And no matter how cool the Matrix made looking at code seem, computer programmers are even weirder than authors.
In the final exam in the Chaucer course we were asked why he used certain verbal devices, certain adjectives, why he had certain characters behave in certain ways. And I wrote, 'I don't think Chaucer had any idea why he did any of these things. That isn't the way people write.' I believe this as strongly now as I did then. Most of what is best in writing isn't done deliberately.
In the final exam in the Chaucer course we were asked why he used certain verbal devices, certain adjectives, why he had certain characters behave in certain ways. And I wrote, 'I don't think Chaucer had any idea why he did any of these things. That isn't the way people write.'
I believe this as strongly now as I did then. Most of what is best in writing isn't done deliberately.
I never waited for my Irish Cream coffee to be the right temperature, with a storm happening outside and my fireplace crackling ... I wrote every day, at home, in the office, whether I felt like it or not, I just did it.
A writer’s life is half ambition and half anxiety, and there has to be both. It is no good writing a novel and feeling fine, and it is no good writing a whole novel feeling miserable. It has to be both, that mixture of anxiety and ambition, and you get that with every novel, but more so when you write about these epics of human suffering. I felt that just as much when I wrote about the Gulag. Every writer knows what that is. The process goes… you have to think: ‘This novel I am writing is no good.’ Then you have to think: ‘All my novels are no good.’ And then, when you reach that point, you can begin.
A short story I have written long ago would barge into my house in the middle of the night, shake me awake and shout, 'Hey,this is no time for sleeping! You can't forget me, there's still more to write!' Impelled by that voice, I would find myself writing a novel. In this sense, too, my short stories and novels connect inside me in a very natural, organic way.
So what do you do when you are stuck? The first thing I do when I am stuck is pray. But I’m not talking about a quick, Help me Lord, Sunday’s a comin’ prayer. When I get stuck I get up from my desk to head for my closet. Literally. If I‘m at the office I go over to a corner that I have deemed my closet away from home. I get on my knees and remind God that this was not my idea, it was His… None of this is new information to God… Then I ask God to show me if there is something He wants to say to prepare me for what He wants me to communicate to our congregation. I surrender my ideas, my outline and my topic. Then I just stay in that quiet place until God quiets my heart… Many times I will have a breakthrough thought or idea that brings clarity to my message. . . Like you, I am simply a mouthpiece. Getting stuck is one way God keeps me ever conscious of that fact.
In a very real way, one writes a story to find out what happens in it. Before it is written it sits in the mind like a piece of overheard gossip or a bit of intriguing tattle. The story process is like taking up such a piece of gossip, hunting down the people actually involved, questioning them, finding out what really occurred, and visiting pertinent locations. As with gossip, you can't be too surprised if important things turn up that were left out of the first-heard version entirely; or if points initially made much of turn out to have been distorted, or simply not to have happened at all.
Every word I write is like a drop of my blood. If it's flowed passionately and long, I need time to recover from the emotion spent before I begin a new story. My characters are aspects of my life. I have to respectfully and carefully move between them.