Quotes that Say Something

"Please, dad, get down and look. I think there's some kind of monster under my bed."

Life when seen in close-up often seems tragic, but in wide-angle it often seems comic. -- Charlie Chaplin

"And when the cloudbursts thunder in your ear, you shout, but no one's there to hear. And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes, I'll see you on the dark side of the moon." -- Roger Waters, "Brain Damage"

May 23, 2014

How to Act Like a Writer

          Thank you, Ms. Carolyn Gregoire. I got some good ideas and reminders 
          from of this blog piece. It was posted originally on May 15, 2014.

          A couple of the suggestion points seem good to keep in mind. -- Butch

          Writing isn't easy. In fact, it can be painfully difficult. Because it's thinking, but on paper. David McCullough says, "To write well is to think clearly. That's why it's so hard."
          Many great writers, including Joan Didion and Don DeLillo, have said that their purpose for putting words on paper is to find clarity in their thoughts, and have described the process of writing as one of becoming familiar with their own minds.
          Hunter S. Thompson once claimed, "For words are merely tools and if you use the right ones you can actually put even your life in order."
If you're a writer, then you're likely both devoted to your craft and eternally frustrated by it -- and even the most talented writers could use guidance . . . to get into your "writer's mind" and produce your best work.
Study the greats.
Hunter S. Thompson was known to transcribe Ernest Hemingway's novels in full, just to absorb the words -- he typed out The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms in the hopes of absorbing as much wisdom as possible from his literary idol.
Observe everything.
Marina Keegan, a brilliant young writer, died tragically just five days after graduating magna cum laude from Yale University. Her final essay for The Yale Daily News,"The Opposite Of Loneliness," went viral and attracted over 1 million views the week after it was published.
In her too-short career, Keegan mastered the art of observation -- perhaps a writer's greatest asset
Daydreaming may get a bad rap -- but it can help connect you to what you think and feel, the source of all good (and bad) writing. 
Write from your own truth.
In an interview with The Paris Review, Gabriel García Márquez advised young writers, based on his own experience, to write what they know.
"If I had to give a young writer some advice I would say to write about something that has happened to him; it’s always easy to tell whether a writer is writing about something that has happened to him or something he has read or been told," Marquez said. "It always amuses me that the biggest praise for my work comes for the imagination, while the truth is that there’s not a single line in all my work that does not have a basis in reality. The problem is that Caribbean reality resembles the wildest imagination."
Make writing your top priority.
henry miller
Henry Miller wrote the serious writer must put his craft above all else. "Write first and always," advises Miller. "Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards."
Find your creative inspiration, wherever it may be.
Gertrude Stein once said of the writing process, "It will come if it is there and if you will let it come.” . . . (Find) a consistent source of inspiration. 
Know what you're getting yourself into.
You most likely will need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there's no free lunch. Writing is work. It's also gambling. You don't get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you're on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don't whine. -- Margaret Atwood
Find space for solitude.
zadie smith
Zadie Smith wrote in a list of rules for writers, "Avoid cliques, gangs, groups. The presence of a crowd won't make your writing any better than it is."
Particularly, Smith noted, the place where you write must be one of solitude. "Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you," she said.
Psychoanalyze yourself.
If you're stumped for writing material or unsure of whether you have enough life experience to draw from, try taking a little walk down memory lane. According to Flannery O'Connior, "Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.”
Take it one day, or sentence, at a time.
When a writing assignment or grand idea is sitting in front of you waiting to be put into words, it's easy to become overwhelmed with the scope of the undertaking. But like any great work of fiction or non-fiction, there's only one way for it to be done: One word, sentence, and paragraph at a time.  
Compete against only yourself.
william faulkner
William Faulkner described the artist as a "creature driven by demons," perpetually dissatisfied with his own work. While this dissatisfaction is to a certain degree inevitable (and productive), it can be kept in check by refusing to compare your work to that of others.
"[The writer] must never be satisfied with what he does. It never is as good as it can be done. Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself." -- William Faulkner
Just do it.
Stephen King knows a thing or two about being a prolific writer. And it pretty much all comes down to one point: "Read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut."
And do it with joy.
As Joyce Carol Oates advised, "Write your heart out."


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