By: Cornell DeVille
When trying to come up with something of value for today’s post, I decided to ask some of my old writing friends about writing and see if they had any ideas or suggestions they could share. They actually had quite a bit to say. Quite a bit, on the various aspects of writing, that is far more valuable than anything I could come up with this morning.
C.S. Lewis shared this insight:
Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.
My dear friend, John Steinbeck, had this to say when we discussed the post about giving up:
The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.
Anne Sexton agreed and added this:
When I am writing I am doing the thing I was meant to do.
Ray Bradbury put it a little more graphically:
If you did not write every day, the poisons would accumulate and you would begin to die, or act crazy or both – you must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.
I love the advice I received from my dear old friend, Ernest Hemingway:
The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day when you’re rewriting a novel you will never be stuck.
I like Philip Martin’s take on the whole writing thing:
In the end, writing skills are mostly absorbed, not learned. Like learning to speak as a native speaker, learning to write well is not just learning a set of rules or techniques. It’s a huge, messy body of deep language, inspired by bits of readings, conversations, incidents; it’s affected by how you were taught and where you live and who you want to become. For every convention, there is another way that may work better. For every rule, there are mavericks who succeed by flaunting it. There is no right or wrong way to write, no ten easy steps.
Anton Chekhov had some good advice on showing vs. telling:
Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
On giving up, George Orwell said:
Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.
And finally, Sinclair Lewis brought it all full circle when he said:
It is impossible to discourage the real writers – they don’t give a damn what you say, they’re going to write.