Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Advice for Writers

I loved this article about how best to encourage young writers that was summarized by TNC as "...not just good advice for making writers, it's good advice for parenting. Failure and boredom are underrated forces for good in this world."

(I'm assuming that posting about writing falls under the scope of the "reading" portion of this blog. If you disagree, just let me know.)


  1. Posts about writing -- absolutely!

    I think it's a beautifully written piece, and certainly good advice for parenting. I'm a little bit skeptical about whether it is good advice for making writers, but then, I'm skeptical about whether there is *any* good advice for making writers.

    Though perhaps it all depends, in the first place, what it means to "be a writer."

  2. Good observations. I've always liked reading about what it takes "to be a writer" even if most of them are lists about things one "must" do. Of course, the only thing one NEEDS to do is write, and then write again, and then write some more.

    Having said that, another good piece of advice I ran into this weekend was from The Atlantic's Jeffrey Tayler:

    "The question for me was not, then, how does one read to write, but how does one read to live? I conceived early on the conviction that one should lead one’s life as if one were the protagonist of an epic novel, with the outcome predetermined and chapter after chapter of edifying, traumatic and exhilarating events to be suffered through. Since the end is known in advance, one must try to experience as much as possible in the brief time allotted.

    The protagonist of “The Death of Ivan Il’ich” died moaning, in agony, overcome with the realization that he had wasted his days on earth following social conventions. He lacked l’esprit frondeur, and he paid for it. Conventions now are hardly less pervasive than they were in Tolstoy’s day; we’re pressured to start a career, build our résumé, earn a certain amount of money, and so forth. But remember: None of us gets out of here alive. So don’t fear risks. Rebel. Be bold, try hard, and embrace adversity; let both success and failure provide you with unique material for your writing, let them give you a life different enough to be worth writing about."

  3. Was going to do the above as Thought Ambience's Quote of hte Day but it turns out I had aready done it here:

    What's fascinating about blogging is watching how your thoughts evolve in public. Today, I have a completely different reaction about Tayler's quote then I did over a year ago, which is rather than complaining about the lack of time and energy, suck it up and make it happen and let the rest of it fall out where it may.

    Linked to this idea of "l’esprit frondeur" is the idea of "radical growth" and, as Clay Collins is advised, that while it may be the best way to live life (and to become a writer) in the abstract, doing so can carry a cost. See for the article, and the money quote comes from Kelly's response to the main article, which is "You can stay a perpetual self-seeking nomad forever if you want to, but I have chosen not to. The costs would be too high. So I find innovative and adjustable ways to keep the free spirit alive and well. It is possible, it just takes a lot more effort." The key to me being "a lot more time and effort." I've taken this well off topic, but I hope you see what I mean.

    Anyways - back to work!