Monday, May 16, 2016

WOI Guest Post: 12 Nuggets of Writing Wisdom

1. Work hard to become competent.

Neil Gaiman said, "There's no magic formula. To become a competent writer, you write until you start to sound like you, and then you keep on writing. Finish things you start. Get better."

2. View life from different perspectives.

Douglas Clegg said, "Get out and live and travel and see the world from perspectives other than the one with which you've been saddled. Youth doesn't last very long, and it might be better to participate in life awhile before writing from it."

3. Write one page at a time.

John Steinbeck said, "When I face the desolate impossibility of writing 500 pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me and I know I can never do it. This happens every time. Then gradually I write one page and then another. One day's work is all I can permit myself to contemplate and I eliminate the possibility of ever finishing."

4. Strive for vigorous writing.

William Strunk, Jr. said, "Omit needless words. Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts."

5. Be vigilant and ever ready.

Earl Nightingale said, "Ideas are elusive, slippery things. Best to keep a pad of paper and a pencil at your bedside, so you can stab them during the night before they get away."

6. Develop your own writing voice.

Michael Chabon said, "A voice, not merely recognizable, but original, unique, engaging and above all derived from, reflecting, and advancing the meaning of the story itself, is necessary to good and worthwhile literature."

7. Write with confidence.

William Zinsser said, "Don't say you were a bit confused and sort of tired and a little depressed and somewhat annoyed. Be tired. Be confused. Be depressed. Be annoyed. Don't hedge your prose with little timidities. Good writing is lean and confident."

8. Develop a writing habit.

Richard North Patterson said, "Cultivate steady work habits: a schedule that contemplates either regular work hours every week or a certain number of pages. Artistic inspiration is one of the most overrated premises for a writing schedule; a writer should try to get pages done on a regular basis, then work to improve them. If one waits for inspiration, rather than treating writing like a serious task, it becomes much harder to ever finish a book."

9. Write right now.

Jack London said, "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."

10. Venture out and attempt to be read and published.

John Campbell said, "The reason 99% of all stories written are not bought by editors is very simple. Editors never buy manuscripts that are left on the closet shelf at home."

11. Rejection is part of the writing life.

Meg Cabot said, "You are not a hundred dollar bill. Not everyone is going to like you or your story. Do not take rejection personally."

12. Write with passion.

Ann Patchett said, "The end result for a writer may be finding a publisher, but publishing is not anywhere near the beginning or the middle of this process. So when we advise young people about writing, it would be best if we could move students away from that kind of thinking and say, 'Write because you're passionate about it. Think of yourself as a glass blower. You don't blow your first glass and take it to Tiffany's. You blow your first glass, and you smash it. You blow it again, and you smash it.'"

Copyright (c) 2004 Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ

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