Writing Advice from the Great Minds of Literature

Books & Writing October 1, 2014

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

Whether you are a well-known writer or you find yourself at the beginning of the road, you have questions and dilemmas about the writing process; all writers have, and it’s in the way you choose to deal with them that you will find the key to success. And by success I don’t necessarily mean fame and fortune, it is up to you to define what will bring that feeling of accomplishment in your heart.

Discussing about the topic of writing, giving advice on the writing process or analyzing a writer’s path to recognition are favorite subjects for many authors, and some of the great mind of literature have offered us precious insights on the alchemy of writing throughout the time.

Exploring the Writing Universe

This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.

—Neil Gaiman

Probably the hardest aspect of the writing process is convincing yourself that this is the road you want to follow and finding a way to take the first step. As Neil Gaiman says, all you need to do is put one word after another and you will soon be swept away by the wonderful powers of your imagination. And if you happen to meet the infamous writer’s block along the way, remember Kurt Vonnegut’s advice:

Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.

—Kurt Vonnegut

Finding Your Path

[tweetquote]To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the music the words make.

—Truman Capote[/tweetquote]

You are probably thinking now that there is more to writing than putting one word in front of another and coming up with a good subject, and you are right! The most important thing for a writer is to find its own path, to find that personal sparkle and never let go of it. The most amazing literary masterpieces have come from people that were not afraid to make that journey, the journey that helps find the real you. Find your inner character, let your experience and inspiration led the way and don’t worry about any other external factor.

[tweetquote]We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.

—Anais Nin[/tweetquote]

Live, write, enjoy the memories and always make new ones. If you learn to respect the past, cherish the present and set paths for the future, you will succeed in everything you do, not only in your writing career.

How to Keep Going Despite the Obstacles

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! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.

—William Faulkner

WritingThere are of course moments in a writer’s life when inspiration seems to flee, when you think you have chosen the wrong path, that all the good books have been already written or that you have no more good stories in you. In moments like these, turn to reading. Then write!

Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashin. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.

—Franz Kafka

As for getting your writings out in the world, I think the best advice comes from Isaac Asimov:

You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist.

And don’t forget:

[tweetquote]You can make anything by writing.

—C.S. Lewis[/tweetquote]

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