Advice for Writ­ing

The Monthly (Australia) - - CONTENTS - Com­piled by Ryan O’Neill

The only good writ­ing is in­tu­itive writ­ing. It would be a big bore if you knew where it was go­ing. Ray BRad­BuRy Never worry about the com­mer­cial pos­si­bil­i­ties of a project. Ge­off dyeR Here is a les­son in cre­ative writ­ing. First rule: Do not use semi­colons. They are trans­ves­tite hermaphrodites rep­re­sent­ing ab­so­lutely noth­ing. All they do is show you’ve been to col­lege. KuRT Von­neGuT In writ­ing as in sex, the best advice is to re­lax and let na­ture take her course. STephen KinG You have to sim­ply love writ­ing, and you have to re­mind your­self of­ten that you love it. Su­San oRlean What you don’t know would make a great book. Syd­ney SMiTh Pop­u­lar mag­a­zines in­cul­cate a care­less and de­plorable style which is hard to un­learn, and which im­pedes the ac­qui­si­tion of a purer style. If such things must be read, let them be skimmed over as lightly as pos­si­ble. An ex­cel­lent habit to cul­ti­vate is the an­a­lyt­i­cal study of the King James Bi­ble. h.p. loVecRafT My perfect day is sit­ting in a room with some blank pa­per. That’s heaven. That’s gold and any­thing else is just a waste of time. coRMac MccaRThy Every­one has a book in­side them, which is ex­actly where I think it should in most cases re­main. chRiSTo­pheR hiTchenS If I didn’t know the end­ing of a story, I wouldn’t be­gin. I al­ways write my last lines, my last para­graph, my last page first. KaTheRine anne poRTeR No man but a block­head ever wrote ex­cept for money. Sa­Muel John­Son With ed­u­cated peo­ple, I sup­pose, punc­tu­a­tion is a mat­ter of rule; with me it is a mat­ter of feel­ing. But I must say that I have a great re­spect for the semi­colon; it’s a very use­ful lit­tle chap. aBRa­haM lin­coln Writ­ing is the flip side of sex – it’s only good when it’s over. hunTeR S. ThoMp­Son Writ­ing a book is a hor­ri­ble, ex­haust­ing strug­gle, like a long bout of some painful ill­ness. Ge­oRGe oRwell I write to dis­cover what I know. flan­neRy o’con­noR Read, read, read. Read ev­ery­thing – trash, clas­sics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a car­pen­ter who works as an ap­pren­tice and stud­ies the master. Read! wil­liaM faulKneR You must not come lightly to the blank page. STephen KinG There is no greater agony than bear­ing an un­told story in­side you. Maya anGelou

Don’t ro­man­ti­cise your “vo­ca­tion”. You can either write good sen­tences or you can’t. There is no “writer’s life­style”. All that mat­ters is what you leave on the page. zAdie SMiTh Don’t save any­thing. jAMeS SAl­Ter One forges one’s style on the ter­ri­ble anvil of daily dead­lines. éMile zolA You never have to change any­thing you got up in the mid­dle of the night to write. SAul bel­low The pub­lic wants work which flat­ters its il­lu­sions. guSTAve flAu­berT End­ing a novel is al­most like putting a child to sleep – it can’t be done abruptly. colM Tóibín Writ­ing, like life it­self, is a voy­age of dis­cov­ery. The ad­ven­ture is a meta­phys­i­cal one: it is a way of ap­proach­ing life in­di­rectly, of ac­quir­ing a to­tal rather than a par­tial view of the uni­verse. The writer lives be­tween the up­per and lower worlds: he takes the path in or­der even­tu­ally to be­come that path him­self. henry Miller I had learnt al­ready never to empty the well of my writ­ing. erneST heM­ing­wAy I love dead­lines. I love the whoosh­ing noise they make as they go by. dou­glAS AdAMS I don’t be­lieve in writ­ing at night be­cause it comes too eas­ily. günTer grASS No one can write de­cently who is dis­trust­ful of the reader’s in­tel­li­gence, or whose at­ti­tude is pa­tro­n­is­ing. e.b. whiTe Fin­ish­ing a book is just like you took a child out in the back­yard and shot it. TruMAn cApoTe

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