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6 bits of writing advice from John Steinbeck


Who better to listen to than the greats when it comes to rediscovering the inspiration to continue slogging away at that novel? Seeing as John Steinbeck grabbed himself a Pulitzer and a Nobel Prize, it’s certainly safe to use that descriptor, so the folks over at the Atlantic gleaned six morsels of wisdom from a 1975 interview with the author for The Paris Review.

1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.

2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.

3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.

Full story at The Atlantic.

The art of writing.

Photo credit: Fotolia

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  • Valentino Martinez

    Great advice and even better counter-advice. Loved it and value John Steinbeck.