Timeless Advice on Writing: The Collected Wisdom of Great Writers (Part 2)

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Here continues 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.

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

Enjoy.


 

  1. Kurt Vonnegut: How to Write With Style and the 8 Keys to the Power of the Written Word (1985)

    “The most damning revelation you can make about yourself is that you do not know what is interesting and what is not.”

  2. Ann Patchett: What Now?

    “Coming back is the thing that enables you to see how all the dots in your life are connected.”

  3. Mary Gordon: The Joy of Notebooks and Writing by Hand as a Creative Catalyst

    “However thoroughly we lose ourselves in the vortex of our invention, we inhabit a corporeal world.”

  4. H. P. Lovecraft: Advice to Aspiring Writers (1920)

    “A page of Addison or of Irving will teach more of style than a whole manual of rules, whilst a story of Poe’s will impress upon the mind a more vivid notion of powerful and correct description and narration than will ten dry chapters of a bulky textbook.”

  5. Henry Miller: Reflections on Writing

    “Understanding is not a piercing of the mystery, but an acceptance of it, a living blissfully with it, in it, through and by it.”

  6. Margaret Atwood: 10 Rules of Writing

    “­Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.”

  7. David Foster Wallace: The Nature of the Fun and Why Writers Write

    “Fiction becomes a weird way to countenance yourself and to tell the truth instead of being a way to escape yourself or present yourself in a way you figure you will be maximally likable.”

  8. Joy Williams: Why Writers Write

    “A writer loves the dark, loves it, but is always fumbling around in the light.”

  9. Joan Didion: Ego, Grammar, and the Impetus to Write

    “Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind there would have been no reason to write.”

  10. David Ogilvy: 10 No-Bullshit Tips on Writing

    “Never write more than two pages on any subject.”

  11. George Orwell: The Four Motives for Writing (1946)

    “Sheer egoism… Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen — in short, with the whole top crust of humanity.”

  12. Ezra Pound: A Few Don’ts for Those Beginning to Write Verse (1913)

    “Consider the way of the scientists rather than the way of an advertising agent for a new soap.”

  13. Ray Bradbury: Storytelling and Human Nature (1963)

    “Man has always been half-monster, half-dreamer.”

  14. Joseph Conrad: Writing and the Role of the Artist (1897)

    “Art is long and life is short, and success is very far off.”

  15. Helen Dunmore: 9 Rules of Writing

    “A problem with a piece of writing often clarifies itself if you go for a long walk.”

  16. E. B. White: The Role and Responsibility of the Writer (1969)

    “Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life.”

  17. Jack Kerouac: 30 Beliefs and Techniques for Prose and Life

    “No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge.”

  18. Raymond Chandler on Writing

    “The test of a writer is whether you want to read him again years after he should by the rules be dated.”

  19. Walter Benjamin: The Writer’s Technique in Thirteen Theses

    “The more circumspectly you delay writing down an idea, the more maturely developed it will be on surrendering itself.”

  20. 28-Year-Old Susan Sontag on the Four People a Great Writer Must Be

    “A great writer has all 4 — but you can still be a good writer with only 1 and 2.”

  21. 10 Tips on Writing from Joyce Carol Oates

    “Don’t try to anticipate an ideal reader — or any reader. He/she might exist — but is reading someone else.”

  22. Neil Gaiman: 8 Rules of Writing

    “Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.”

  23. Anaïs Nin: Why Emotional Excess is Essential to Writing and Creativity

    “Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.”

  24. Neil Gaiman’s Advice to Aspiring Writers

    “You have to finish things — that’s what you learn from, you learn by finishing things.”

  25. Jorge Luis Borges on Writing: Wisdom from His Most Candid Interviews

    “A writer’s work is the product of laziness.”

  26. Herbert Spencer: The Philosophy of Style, the Economy of Attention, and the Ideal Writer (1852)

    “To have a specific style is to be poor in speech.”

  27. Charles Bukowski on Writing and His Insane Daily Routine

    “Writing is like going to bed with a beautiful woman and afterwards she gets up, goes to her purse and gives me a handful of money.”

  28. Samuel Johnson on Writing and Creative Doggedness

    “Composition is for the most part an effort of slow diligence and steady perseverance, to which the mind is dragged by necessity or resolution, and from which the attention is every moment starting to more delightful amusements.”

  29. Edgar Allan Poe: The Joy of Marginalia and What Handwriting Reveals about Character

    “In the marginalia … we talk only to ourselves; we therefore talk freshly — boldly — originally — with abandonment — without conceit.”

***

This concludes Part 2, be sure to check back tomorrow for Part 3.

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

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