Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Advice to Writers

Sometime in 2004, The Hamilton Spectator (affectionately known as the Hamilton Expectorator) invited some local writers to give some advice to young writers. Though I wrote this for teens, I think it applies not only to me but to mature writers also.

Advice to Writers

1. Never try to create a masterpiece. Just write something that you like.

2. Read every kind of writing.

3. Try writing every kind of writing.

4. Don’t hang your hopes on inspiration, but rather on imagination, creative play, and developing skill.

5. Publish – make your own books, chapbooks, magazines and zines.

6. Make/discover a community of other writers.

7. Make/discover an audience of readers & listeners.

8. Find a thoughtful, inspiring, non-patronizing mentor who’s not afraid to tell it like it is.

9. Like most writers you may think that what you’ve written is lumpy misshapen crud, but look at it next week.

10. Like most writers, you may think that what you’ve written is better than Dickens, but look at it next week.

11. Be willing to eddit, to eedit, to editt, to edit. The difference between a good writer and a bad writer is that the good writer mines their bad writing for the few nuggets worth keeping. A bad writer just keeps it all.

12. Try out other solutions: you can’t break a piece of writing & you can always go back to an earlier draft.

13. Don’t hold on to your initial ideas, but be open to what you discover as you write – your writing process may be smarter than you are.

14. Try to imitate other writers and don’t worry if you don’t end up sounding like them. Once you’ve started a bad imitation, you may find something interesting in what you’ve written.

15. Read every kind of writing

16. And buy all of my books. Give copies to your relatives.

17. And keep writing. An Olympic runner runs and runs and runs. A writer keeps writing.

18. Finally, remember painting when you were five? You used your fingers, your nose, your little brother. You played. You experimented. You had fun.

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