Harsh Truths About Writing from Some Writing Legends

Writers, if you are struggling, you are not alone. It’s the typical state of mind for a serious writer! I stumbled on this and thought it worth sharing here. No endorsements intended or implied. Just food for thought and a few reasons to smile.

21 HARSH TRUTHS ABOUT WRITING
From Thought Catalog

1. The first draft of everything is shit. -Ernest Hemingway

2. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass. -David Ogilvy

3. If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy. – Dorothy Parker

4. Notice how many of the Olympic athletes effusively thanked their mothers for their success? “She drove me to my practice at four in the morning,” etc. Writing is not figure skating or skiing. Your mother will not make you a writer. My advice to any young person who wants to write is: leave home. -Paul Theroux

5. I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide. — Harper Lee

6. You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. ― Jack London

7. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. — George Orwell

8. There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. ― W. Somerset Maugham

9. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time — or the tools — to write. Simple as that. – Stephen King

10. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman

11. Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die. – Anne Enright

12. If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do. – William Zinsser

13. 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

14. Prose is architecture, not interior decoration. – Ernest Hemingway

15. Write drunk, edit sober. – Ernest Hemingway

16. Get through a draft as quickly as possible. Hard to know the shape of the thing until you have a draft. Literally, when I wrote the last page of my first draft of Lincoln’s Melancholy I thought, Oh, shit, now I get the shape of this. But I had wasted years, literally years, writing and re-writing the first third to first half. The old writer’s rule applies: Have the courage to write badly. – Joshua Wolf Shenk

17. Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. – Mark Twain

18. Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that — but you are the only you. ― Neil Gaiman

19. Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative. – Oscar Wilde

20. You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ― Ray Bradbury

21. Don’t take anyone’s writing advice too seriously. – Lev Grossman

About Margaret Jean Langstaff

A lifelong critical reader with literary tastes, a novelist, short story writer, essayist, book critic, and professional book editor for many years. A consultant to publishers and authors, providing manuscript critiques and a full range of editorial services. A friend and supporter of all other readers and writers. A collector of signed modern first editions. Animal lover and tree hugger. Follow me on Twitter @LangstaffEditor
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12 Responses to Harsh Truths About Writing from Some Writing Legends

  1. SexwAnnie says:

    Reblogged this on The perception of Annie and commented:
    While sifting through the reader I came across this wonderful post. Then I just had to re-blog. If nothing else it will make you smile. Thank you Margaret Jean Langstaff for posting.

    Like

  2. SexwAnnie says:

    If these words of wisdom from some great writers don’t discourage you then maybe you are a writer.. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. bowmanauthor says:

    Great wisdom and wit all in one place. As an editor, I’ve seen many of the quotes, but I appreciate you putting it all together. It adds synergy.

    Like

  4. Pingback: Reblog, famous writing quotes, by Margaret Jean Langstaff, author, reviewer, D.G. Kaye

  5. #8 made me laugh – I am still looking for the elusive rules 😀 Great list and I’m glad I found your blog through D.G. Kaye’s reblog of this post.

    Like

  6. Great advice that needs to be read and re-read and re-read. I particularly liked this:
    Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman
    So true…
    My thanks to D.G. Kaye who reblogged this while now she’s probably sunbathing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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