how 2 write

December 17, 2013

in blowg

Recently The Atlantic rehashed a year’s worth of author interviews, pulling out each writer’s advice to the masses. In the interest of even further brevity, I have summed up the earthly wisdom of Khaled Hosseini, Jim Shepard, Tracy Chevalier, Fay Weldon, Mohsin Hamid, Michael Pollan, Jessica Francis Kane, Stephen King, Paul Harding, Jonathan Franzen, Andre Dubus III, Sherman Alexie, Aimee Bender, Amy Tan, Craig Nova and Elizabeth Gilbert into one bite-sized chunk:

What comes out is rarely what was in your head. Epiphanies are boring. Use less. Smile, even tho it’s meaningless. Take walks. Take LSD. Plant gardens. Think about where things come from. It’s not that difficult. The story is the real work. Contradict, juxtapose, never make a firm decision. The internet sucks, use it less. Back the fuck off. Dream. Find beauty in imprisonment. Stay mysterious. Be open. Alter your point of view. Don’t hate yourself.

Shamefully, I haven’t read any of these writers, except a few King short stories, so I have no idea if their writing guidelines are actually any good or results in any fantastic work. I’ll give them all the benefit of the doubt because many of them are famous for some reason, I’m sure. I did notice, however, that many of these authors merely quoted other, more established writers like Camus or O’Connor or Whitman and then expanded on the quote.

So basically the article is a rehash of rehashed ideas and now it’s been rehashed into this blog.

If you’re a writer, you probably know writing advice is mostly bullshit. Yet you read it anyway. Lots of this advice was really, really insightful, but it was insightful to how someone else thinks and processes language and some of it applies and some of it doesn’t and some of it is completely useless. Yet, crunching everything down its the core made me realize that good writing advice is just good life advice. Read the above paragraph again. Do those things. Maybe that’ll make you happy. I don’t know. Advice? Actually, I don’t have any.

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