Ask any writer about the rules he’s heard throughout the years, and he will be able to recite a litany as deeply embedded as the Lord’s Prayer. Show, don’t tell. Write what you know. The first sentence is key. The last sentence is key. All writing is rewriting. No adverbs. No one aside from you finds your dreams interesting. You should never write in the second person.
The most indelible writing exercise I was ever taught was to copy, either by typing or by hand, a favorite piece of prose.
When I dislike a novel, it’s usually because I recognize something familiar in it: a character, a premise, most often a writing style. Familiar is boring.
Moss Hart had talent, an inhuman tolerance for work, and a pair of brass balls, but what set him apart from the thousands of other guys hanging around theater lobbies in the mid-1920s trying to catch a break was that the man was fucking relentless.
Act Two: A Young Playwright Grows Up by Michael Bourne
No matter how people approach loneliness or solitude or community, we all do. We’re not that different from each other. The way we experience it is different, but we all experience love, pain, loneliness.
We’re always connected, in theory, to people via the Internet in our homes. And yet, we’re growing more isolated and disconnected.
I feel it in my brain, I can feel when it’s been a few hours since I’ve gone into my inbox. When I go online my brain feels like it’s sizzling. It’s not a good way to think for someone who needs to make intuitive and imaginative and memory-based connections.
Initially I had a blog because everyone told me to have a blog. And when I started, I thought what can I regularly blog about that feels like a deep enough well? And the answer was: the process of writing. The creative process itself. What it takes to do the work, what are the pitfalls and the joys, the struggles and the privileges. We do what we do alone in a room. Yet we’re struggling with the blank pages.
You have a hard time imagining how the things you’ve experienced or discovered, which seem abjectly personal, could be of use to another writer. You’re aware that you can follow every single rule in the book, and still write a crappy story. You’re aware of the constant disappointments of writing, of falling short again and again, of seeing ideas shrivel up or simply die.
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