Quotes and links for the writerly minded

NaNoWriMo update: I’m at about 5,500 words, which puts me like 1.5 days behind, but I think I can make it up. In addition to music without lyrics (or no music at all) I’m finding that NO INTERNET makes me much more productive… I’ve started using Freedom again to carve out little chunks of dis-connectivity.

Somehow in the midst of this NaNo craziness, I’m also working on the next episode/s of Twenty-Somewhere. That is COMING SOON. Ish.

In the meantime, here are some great tips/thoughts on being a writer:

“Big Ass Advice Post” – aka 10 tips for aspiring writers (via moonrat). In particular I think I need to take #1 to heart:

There’s a difference between the craft of writing and the business of writing. At the beginning, your job is to learn everything you can about craft. Don’t obsess about the business until you have an actual product to sell. Educate yourself but don’t get sidetracked from the job of learning how to write well.

“A posteriori” looks at “craft” (Glimmer Train):

So, what then is craft? I might say a distraction, the discourse of the deconstructionist. Writers should work with the original matter, not the tools of the critic.

John Irving talks about his writing process at Big Think, a GREAT new website (a bit similar to TED?) that I stumbled upon today:

I never begin a first draft until there is a plot, until I do know what happens to all of the characters, you might understand why those first drafts are pretty quickly forthcoming, but the rewriting process slows me down and I like everything about the writing process that compels me to slow down, to keep it slow. I write all my first drafts in long hand because you can only write so fast in longhand. And on a keyboard, you can cover too much ground in too fast a time…

And the longer the book you write, the more times you must pass through it because writer’s voices change within a four, five year period of time, you’re actually liking a different kind of sentence five years down the road, than you were four years ago. And one of the tasks of revising a novel of any length is to go back and make the whole thing sound as if it were spoken in one breath, as if your sentence style, your preference for the semicolon or the parentheses or the dash, just was constant, and you got to make it look that way, even though it wasn’t spoken in one breath, it was spoken in very halting little bits, it’s supposed to sound like it’s coming right off the top of your head.

And also from Big Think, Jonathan Franzen talks about what writing should be:

A piece of writing’s not interesting or worth doing if there’s not some personal risk, if it’s not dangerous in some fashion, whether you’re exposing some part of yourself you’d rather not talk about or whether you’re trying to be sincere about something that would be much more comfortable to be ironic about or vice versa, if you’re being sarcastic or ironic about something that people take seriously.

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9 Comments

  1. I definitely find that a lack of internet boost productivity… hence why I usually do my writing at Starbucks.
    .-= • Recent post by Todd Newton: My yearly bookmark =-.

  2. Wylie

    Well done! Very good advice…

  3. Thanks for posting this. It reminded me that John Irving has a new book out. He is my favorite author. He hasn’t written my favorite novel, but when taking in an entire body of work, his is tops on my list.

    Gotta get his new book. Like, tomorrow. :)
    .-= • Recent post by Sonja: World’s cutest correspondence =-.

  4. Todd-
    Can’t you get free wireless at Starbucks?

    Wylie-
    Thanks!

    Sonja-
    Is he? I started The World According to Garp but had to return the book to the library before I finished. It was… thick, lol.

  5. Jon

    Liked the Jonathan Franzen quote: Insincere, ironic authors bother me. Be honest with yourself and your interests or stop writing. It’s an either/or situation.

    Thanks for sharing this.
    .-= • Recent post by Jon: Ten Ways Producers Will Blow You Off =-.

  6. Oh yeah, I love John Irving. There is an incredible depth to his stories, which usually span decades. By the time I’m done, I feel like I’ve really experienced someone else’s existence. And I love his quirkiness, and how much time he invests in small characters. I just started reading Last Night in Twisted River, and I’m fewer than 10 pages into it, and I think he’s crammed more narrative and back story into one of the characters (not a main character, I think, by the way) than I have into my main character in the novel I’m working on (and by “working on,” I mean the novel I started 5 years ago and never got around to finishing, but I still think about finishing one day). I once tried to write a novel like a John Irving novel, but I couldn’t keep it up through the whole thing. It takes so much inventiveness, and I got lazy about a third of the way through. So yes, I admire him immensely.
    .-= • Recent post by Sonja: Oh, by the way, I broke Quinn’s arm last week =-.

  7. Hmm, I’ll have to give Garp another shot!

  8. I have a hard time remembering the first bit of advice. There is so much to learn when it comes to the ‘craft’ of writing, including reading as much of others’ work as possible and learning to break the rules. It’s easy to get bogged down. And it’s also easy just to focus on your own writing and submission processes, which from all accounts I can find, is a bad thing to do…lol

    The advice from Jonathan Franzen is something I am rarely cognizant of while writing. Oftentimes, it isn’t until I look at the ‘finished’ product that I see how much I’ve revealed, how sincere I’ve been.

    I think Todd–the first commenter–was being sarcastic about Starbucks’ wifi :-)

    –TM | toriemichelle.com
    .-= • Recent post by Torie Michelle: Your Age is Showing =-.

  9. OH lol, thanks Torie. I honestly missed the sarcasm.

    Also, I am so with you on how easy it is to get bogged down, and not being cognizant (mm, pretty word!) of what I’m putting into a piece until I’m “done” writing it.

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