Timeless Advice on Writing: The Collected Wisdom of Great Writers (Part 1)

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Here is a lovely reading list of lots of famous advice on writing that has been presented over the years, featuring words of wisdom from such masters of the craft as Kurt Vonnegut, Susan Sontag, Henry Miller, Stephen King, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Susan Orlean, Ernest Hemingway, Zadie Smith, and many more.

There are so many great pieces that I have split them down into four more manageable parts, which I will be sharing with you over the next few days.

If you have the time to dip into these there are some real gems worth reading.

Enjoy.


 

  1. Jennifer Egan on Writing, the Trap of Approval, and the Most Important Discipline for Aspiring Writers

    “You can only write regularly if you’re willing to write badly… Accept bad writing as a way of priming the pump, a warm-up exercise that allows you to write well.”

  2. The Effortless Effort of Creativity: Jane Hirshfield on Storytelling, the Art of Concentration, and Difficulty as a Consecrating Force of Creative Attention

    “In the wholeheartedness of concentration, world and self begin to cohere. With that state comes an enlarging: of what may be known, what may be felt, what may be done.”

  3. Ted Hughes on How to Be a Writer: A Letter of Advice to His 18-Year-Old Daughter

    “The first sign of disintegration — in a writer — is that the writing loses the unique stamp of his/her character, & loses its inner light.”

  4. Colette on Writing, the Blissful Obsessive-Compulsiveness of Creative Work, and Withstanding Naysayers

    “A lack of money, if it be relative, and a lack of comfort can be endured if one is sustained by pride. But not the need to be astounded.”

  5. Auden on Writing, Originality, Self-Criticism, and How to Be a Good Reader

    “It would only be necessary for a writer to secure universal popularity if imagination and intelligence were equally distributed among all men.”

  6. Stephen King: Writing and the Art of “Creative Sleep”:

    “In both writing and sleeping, we learn to be physically still at the same time we are encouraging our minds to unlock from the humdrum rational thinking of our daytime lives.”

  7. Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing

    “If it sounds like writing … rewrite it.”

  8. Michael Lewis: Writing, Money, and the Necessary Self-Delusion of Creativity

    “When you’re trying to create a career as a writer, a little delusional thinking goes a long way.”

  9. Annie Dillard on Writing

    “At its best, the sensation of writing is that of any unmerited grace. It is handed to you, but only if you look for it. You search, you break your heart, your back, your brain, and then — and only then — it is handed to you.”

  10. Susan Sontag on Writing

    “There is a great deal that either has to be given up or be taken away from you if you are going to succeed in writing a body of work.”

  11. Ray Bradbury: How List-Making Can Boost Your Creativity

    How to feel your way toward something honest, hidden under the trapdoor on the top of your skull.

  12. Anne Lamott: Writing and Why Perfectionism Kills Creativity

    “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.”

  13. Italo Calvino on Writing: Insights from 40+ Years of His Letters

    “To write well about the elegant world you have to know it and experience it to the depths of your being… what matters is not whether you love it or hate it, but only to be quite clear about your position regarding it.”

  14. Ernest Hemingway : Writing, Knowledge, and the Danger of Ego

    “All bad writers are in love with the epic.”

  15. David Foster Wallace: Writing, Death, and Redemption

    “You don’t have to think very hard to realize that our dread of both relationships and loneliness … has to do with angst about death, the recognition that I’m going to die, and die very much alone, and the rest of the world is going to go merrily on without me.”

  16. Isabel Allende: Writing Brings Order to the Chaos of Life

    “Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.”

  17. Stephen King: The Adverb Is Not Your Friend

    “I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops.”

  18. Malcolm Cowley: The Four Stages of Writing

    “The germ of a story is a new and simple element introduced into an existing situation or mood.”

  19. Henry Miller’s 11 Commandments of Writing

    “Work on one thing at a time until finished.”

  20. Advice on Writing: Collected Wisdom from Modernity’s Greatest Writers

    “Finish each day before you begin the next, and interpose a solid wall of sleep between the two. This you cannot do without temperance.”

  21. Kurt Vonnegut: 8 Rules for a Great Story

    “Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.”

  22. Susan Orlean on Writing

    “You have to simply love writing, and you have to remind yourself often that you love it.”

  23. Zadie Smith: 10 Rules of Writing

    “Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand — but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never ­being satisfied.”

  24. John Steinbeck: 6 Tips on Writing, and a Disclaimer

    “Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish.”

  25. F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Secret of Great Writing (1938)

    “Nothing any good isn’t hard.”

  26. E. B. White: Egoism and the Art of the Essay

    “Only a person who is congenially self-centered has the effrontery and the stamina to write essays”

  27. E. B. White: Why Brevity Is Not the Gold Standard for Style

    “Writing is not an exercise in excision, it’s a journey into sound.”

  28. Ray Bradbury: Creative Purpose in the Face of Rejection

    “The blizzard doesn’t last forever; it just seems so.”

  29. Mary Karr: The Magnetism and Madness of the Written Word

    “Be willing to be a child and be the Lilliputian in the world of Gulliver.”

***

This concludes Part 1, be sure to check back tomorrow for Part 2.

Via: https://www.brainpickings.org/advice-on-writing/

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