Timeless Advice on Writing: The Collected Wisdom of Great Writers (Part 4)

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Here concludes 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. Annie Dillard: The Art of the Essay and Narrative Nonfiction vs. Poetry and Short Stories

    “Writers serve as the memory of a people. They chew over our public past.”

  2. C.S. Lewis: The 3 Ways of Writing for Children and the Key to Authenticity in All Writing

    “The only moral that is of any value is that which arises inevitably from the whole cast of the author’s mind.”

  3. Nietzsche: 10 Rules for Writers

    “Style ought to prove that one believes in an idea; not only that one thinks it but also feels it.”

  4. William Faulkner: Writing, the Human Dilemma, and Why We Create

    “It’s the most satisfying occupation man has discovered yet, because you never can quite do it as well as you want to, so there’s always something to wake up tomorrow morning to do.”

  5. David Foster Wallace: The Redemptive Power of Reading and the Future of Writing in the Age of Information

    The fun of reading as “an exchange between consciousnesses, a way for human beings to talk to each other about stuff we can’t normally talk about.”

  6. Zadie Smith: The Psychology of the Two Types of Writers

    “It’s a feeling of happiness that knocks me clean out of adjectives. I think sometimes that the best reason for writing novels is to experience those four and a half hours after you write the final word.”

  7. George Orwell: Writing, How to Counter the Mindless Momentum of Language, and the Four Questions a Great Writer Must Ask Herself

    “By using stale metaphors, similes and idioms, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself.”

  8. Italo Calvino: The Art of Quickness, Digression as a Hedge Against Death, and the Key to Great Writing

    “Success consists in felicity of verbal expression, which every so often may result from a quick flash of inspiration but as a rule involves a patient search… for the sentence in which every word is unalterable.”

  9. Ursula K. Le Guin: Where Ideas Come From, the “Secret” of Great Writing, and the Trap of Marketing Your Work

    “All makers must leave room for the acts of the spirit. But they have to work hard and carefully, and wait patiently, to deserve them.”

  10. Gabriel García Márquez on His Unlikely Beginnings as a Writer

    “If you’re going to be a writer you have to be one of the great ones… After all, there are better ways to starve to death.”

  11. Roald Dahl: How Illness Emboldens Creativity: A Moving Letter to His Bedridden Mentor

    “I doubt I would have written a line … unless some minor tragedy had sort of twisted my mind out of the normal rut.”

  12. Robert Frost: How to Read Intelligently and Write a Great Essay

    “The sidelong glance is what you depend on.”

  13. Lewis Carroll: How to Work Through Difficulty and His Three Tips for Overcoming Creative Block

    “When you have made a thorough and reasonably long effort, to understand a thing, and still feel puzzled by it, stop, you will only hurt yourself by going on.”

  14. Mark Strand: The Heartbeat of Creative Work and the Artist’s Task to Bear Witness to the Universe

    “It’s such a lucky accident, having been born, that we’re almost obliged to pay attention.”

  15. John Steinbeck: The Diary as a Tool of Discipline, a Hedge Against Self-Doubt, and a Pacemaker for the Heartbeat of Creative Work

    “Just set one day’s work in front of the last day’s work. That’s the way it comes out. And that’s the only way it does.”

  16. E.B. White: How to Write for Children and the Writer’s Responsibility to All Audiences

    “Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up, not down.”

  17. Virginia Woolf: Writing and Self-Doubt

    Consolation for those moments when you can’t tell whether you’re “the divinest genius or the greatest fool in the world.”

  18. Cheryl Strayed: Faith, Humility, and the Art of Motherfuckitude

    “Writing is hard for every last one of us… Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.”

  19. Ann Patchett: Writing and Why Self-Forgiveness Is the Most Important Ingredient of Great Art

    “The ability to forgive oneself … is the key to making art, and very possibly the key to finding any semblance of happiness in life.”

  20. Umberto Eco’s Advice to Writers

    “If we think that our reader is an idiot, we should not use rhetorical figures, but if we use them and feel the need to explain them, we are essentially calling the reader an idiot. In turn, he will…

  21. Grace Paley: The Value of Not Understanding Everything

    “Luckily for art, life is difficult, hard to understand, useless, and mysterious.”

  22. Jane Kenyon: Some of the Wisest Words to Create and Live By

    “Be a good steward of your gifts.”

  23. Joseph Conrad on Art and What Makes a Great Writer, in a Beautiful Tribute to Henry James

    “All creative art is magic, is evocation of the unseen in forms persuasive, enlightening, familiar and surprising, for the edification of mankind.”

  24. How to Save Your Soul: Willa Cather on Productivity vs. Creativity, Selling Out, and the Life-Changing Advice That Made Her a Writer

    “It’s so foolish to live (which is always trouble enough) and not to save your soul. It’s so foolish to lose your real pleasures for the supposed pleasures of the chase — or the stock exchange.”

  25. Hemingway’s Advice on Writing, Ambition, the Art of Revision, and His Reading List of Essential Books for Aspiring Writers

    “In any art you’re allowed to steal anything if you can make it better.”

  26. James Baldwin’s Advice on Writing

    “Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance.”

  27. Alison Bechdel on Writing, Therapy, Self-Doubt, and How the Messiness of Life Feeds the Creative Conscience

    “It’s by writing… by stepping back a bit from the real thing to look at it, that we are most present.”

  28. Elizabeth Alexander on Writing, the Ethic of Love, Language as a Vehicle for the Self, and the Inherent Poetry of Personhood

    “You have to tell your own story simultaneously as you hear and respond to the stories of others.”

  29. Can Goodness Win? George Saunders on Writing, the Artist’s Task, and the Importance of Living with Opposing Truths

    “See how long you can stay in that space, where both things are true… That’s a great place to try to be.”

***

This concludes Part 4, I hope you enjoyed reading and learned something valuable to take away and apply to your writing.

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

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