Six Tips on Writing from John Steinbeck. By Maria Popova On the value of unconscious association, or why the best advice is no advice.
If this is indeed the year of reading more and writing better, we’ve been right on course with David Ogilvy’s 10 no-bullshit tips, Henry Miller’s 11 commandments, and various invaluable advice from other great writers. Now comes John Steinbeck — Pulitzer Prize winner, Nobel laureate, love guru — with six tips on writing, culled from his altogether excellent interview it the Fall 1975 issue of The Paris Review.
Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. But perhaps most paradoxically yet poetically, twelve years prior — in 1963, immediately after receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature “for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception” — Steinbeck issued a thoughtful disclaimer to all such advice: ↬ Open Culture Donating = Loving Share on Tumblr. The Obvious Secret to Getting Published in a Magazine. How Do You Know You’re Growing as a Writer?
I’m not sure how to open this post.
I thought about playing the simile card and saying something about how becoming a better writer is a lot like becoming a better other thing – a better architect, a better juggler, a better OPI color namer, a better human. That would have been entirely true. And entirely boring. I also considered manufacturing a conversation between a beginning writer and a seasoned writer that could foreshadow the post’s inevitable wisdom.
I probably would have included an exchange like this: Seasoned Writer: I’m told you want to know how I got to be me. Beginning Writer: Yes. Seasoned Writer: Was that sarcasm? 13 Weird Ways to Work Through Creative Blocks. Ten rules for writing fiction. Elmore Leonard: Using adverbs is a mortal sin 1 Never open a book with weather.
If it's only to create atmosphere, and not a character's reaction to the weather, you don't want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways than an Eskimo to describe ice and snow in his book Arctic Dreams, you can do all the weather reporting you want. 2 Avoid prologues: they can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword. 3 Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue. 4 Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said" ... he admonished gravely. 5 Keep your exclamation points under control. 6 Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose". 7 Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly. 8 Avoid detailed descriptions of characters, which Steinbeck covered. 10 Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
Diana Athill Margaret Atwood Roddy Doyle. 25 Insights on Becoming a Better Writer. When George Plimpton asked Ernest Hemingway what the best training for an aspiring writer would be in a 1954 interview, Hem replied, “Let’s say that he should go out and hang himself because he finds that writing well is impossibly difficult.
Then he should be cut down without mercy and forced by his own self to write as well as he can for the rest of his life. At least he will have the story of the hanging to commence with.” Today, writing well is more important than ever. Far from being the province of a select few as it was in Hemingway’s day, writing is a daily occupation for all of us — in email, on blogs, and through social media. It is also a primary means for documenting, communicating, and refining our ideas.
So what can we do to improve our writing short of hanging ourselves? 1.
How To Drive Yourself Crazy as a Writer. Here are four simple ways to drive yourself crazy (or to drive other writers & readers crazy!)
: 1. Think the very first book you’ve ever written is ready for publication. This is a very hard truth for beginning writers to swallow. No one wants to believe they’ve gone to all the hard work of writing a book for nothing. It took me five books (not to mention a couple of books that I started but never finished). Fortunately, all the work isn’t for nothing. We’ll only drive ourselves crazy with potential rejections, poor sales, and crushing feedback if we attempt to put our books out there too soon. 2. I save my kids’ writing assignments. But, boy, in second grade they thought those stories were wonderful. Even though there’s no set number of years someone needs to write before being ready for publication, there’s something to be said for giving ourselves plenty of growing room. 3. No one can edit his or her own manuscript perfectly. Helium - Where Knowledge Rules. Online Writing Resource for Writers to Sell Their Work – WritersMarket.com.