Friday, January 15, 2010
Writing Pros agree....or not.
Writing is not so hard now is it? One goes tappity tappity on the keys and after a while, it all adds up to a brilliant novel. Uh huh, and I’m in contention for a gold medal in Olympic ice skating. Fortunately, in the Writer’s Digest anniversary issue, there is a collection of some sage advice from the biggest names in writing, but alas, they don’t seem to agree on all the finer points. Let’s take a look.
“I make a very tight outline of everything I write before I write it…” This comes from writer Tom Wolfe. So the outline is critical…unless you’re Robert Ludlum.
“Sometimes one can overanalyze, and I try not to do that. To a great degree, much of the structure has got to come naturally out of the writing,” Ludlum says. Hmmm.
Let’s take a look at inspiration.
From author Frank McCourt, “Sit and quiet yourself. Luxuriate in a certain memory and the details will come. Let the images flow.”
Andy Rooney is more pragmatic. “My advice is not to wait to be struck by an idea. If you’re a writer, you sit down and d*** well decide to have an idea. That’s the way to get an idea.”
Okey dokey. Let’s try another topic. No matter what the project, great writers no doubt share that sense of confidence, of knowing they are masters of the written word. Don’t they?
“Every idea is my last. I feel sure of it. So, I try to do the best with each as it comes and that’s where my responsibility ends. But I just don’t wait for ideas. I look for them. Constantly. And if I don’t use the ideas that I find, they’re going to quit showing up.” – Peg Bracken
And from the supremely confident John Toland, “I’ve always had complete confidence in myself. When I was nothing, I had complete confidence. There were 10 guys in my writing class at Williams College who could write better than I. They didn’t have what I have which is guts. I was dedicated to writing and nothing could stop me.”
So the bottom line? People are different. Writers are different. Life stories, motivations, world views are as different as fingerprints. We need to find our own way. I will close with a quote that applies well to all of us, no matter what the circumstance.
“Don’t quit. It’s very easy to quit during the first 10 years. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t writer, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” – Andre Dubus
So what works for you? What keeps you sitting in that chair writing away? Add your two cents about what keeps you writing.