Thursday, September 20, 2012

Write Up My Alley

This is a sequel of sorts to a post I wrote a while back collecting words of wit and wisdom about writing, curated by me, a person deeply suspicious of One-Size-Fits-All writing advice. Nevertheless, occasionally a few choice observations manage to penetrate my thick carapace of scepticism to earn the AKA seal of approval. It’s no coincidence that all of the quotations below come from writers I admire. Here are some of my recent favourites:

"Anyone who says he wants to be a writer and isn’t writing, doesn’t."
Ernest Hemingway

"Write like everyone you know is dead. You can't please everyone, so don't try."
Joe R. Lansdale
(1) Write your nonsense stories out your system.
(2) Actually sit and write, treating it as a craft. FaceBook fighting is not writing.
(3) Take criticism as a criticism of your work and not you, despite how it feels. You are not perfect, everything can be improved. It will take someone other than yourself to usually find where you need to improve on that.
(4) Operate with realism not convenience, since the latter is detectable bullshit.
(5) Be aware of patterns in your writing.
Alex De Campi from this interview at 3quarksdaily. Also: Buy Her Comics! They're great.
"So put the work in and believe in yourself, believe in your ability to change yourself, if not the world, because changing the world does actually start with changing yourself."
Alan Moore from The Honest Alan Moore Interview - Part 3: On Comics, How to Break Into Comics, and Modern Culture
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
Mark Twain
It doesn't matter what time of day you work, but you have to work every day because creation, like life, is always slipping away from you. You must write every day, but there's no time limit on how long you have to write.

One day you might read over what you've done and think about it. You pick up the pencil or turn on the computer, but no new words come. That's fine. Sometimes you can't go further. Correct a misspelling, reread a perplexing paragraph, and then let it go. You have re-entered the dream of the work, and that's enough to keep the story alive for another 24 hours.

The next day you might write for hours; there's no way to tell. The goal is not a number of words or hours spent writing. All you need to do is to keep your heart and mind open to the work.
Walter Mosley
"If we’re not doing something with the information we’re taking in, then we’re just pigs at the media trough."
Warren Ellis from his excellent blogpost The Manfred Macx Media Diet