Sunday, February 21, 2010

Good advice never hurts

Sometimes I write a little. Sometimes I write a lot. And other times, I'm ashamed to say, I just don't write at all. Oh, I think about it. I reprimand and reproach myself. But even while the creativity simmers, that spark just doesn't fan into a flame of productivity.

I become frustrated with myself. And it's at that time I look for a little motivation and advice from writers far more successful than I:

"If you want to be a writer, you must do two thing above all others: Read a lot, and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut." - Stephen King

"Writer's block is a lot like a head cold. You feel all stuffed up. Nobody seems to be able to help you. And you'll probably get well pretty soon all by yourself." - Marshall Cook

"Remember to get the weather in your god damned book. Weather is very important."
- Ernest Hemingway.

"When you write, don't say, 'I'm going to write a poem.' That attitude will freeze you right away. Sit down with the least expectation of yourself. Say, "I am free to write the worst junk in the world."If every time you sat down, you expected something great, writing would always be a great disappointment. And that expectation would keep you from writing." - Natalie Goldberg

"Look for clutter in your work. Be grateful for everything you can throw away. Re-examine each sentence that you put on paper. Is every word doing new work? Can any thought be expressed with more economy? Is anything pompous or pretentious? Are you hanging onto something useless just because you think it's beautiful? Simplify, simplify." William Zinsser

"Faire et se taire." (Shut up and get on with it.) - Flaubert


  1. Love each of these comments, especially the first and last. Zinsser mentions clutter and I was wondering if it's easier to get rid of clutter in writing than clutter at home?
    Two authors with different viewpoints on writing that I heard at conferences were Ralph McInerny (wrote Father Dowling mysteries) and Cynthia Ryland (excellent children's books). He taught at Notre Dame, had a large family and would write every night from 10 pm to 2 am for the discipline. Cynthia, on the other hand, wrote mostly when inspired. Lynette

  2. Hi, Lynette!!

    You bring up an interesting point. Obviously, you can force yourself to write - people do it on deadline every day. But inspired words often sound far different than those that are forced, don't you think? In a perfect world, the two would mesh!!

    It's likely a personal preference - for me, I think it's a bit of a mixture. Sometimes, I absolutely force myself to sit down and just get cracking, and other times, I have a great idea I absolutely can't wait to write down. (Once or twice, I've been so eager, I've even written ideas in longhand, and if you've seen my handwriting, you KNOW there had to be no other option available!!!)