I love writers, not just for their talent and ability to inspire and inform, but because they love writing and because most of them are incredibly generous about sharing advice. Just about any writer you can think of — alive or famous but no longer with us — has a Web site devoted to his or her work. And you can often pick up some great writing tips simply by visiting the site of a writer you want to learn more about.
After reading that Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling book Wild was going to be the first selection in Oprah’s newly revived book club, I decided to check out Cheryl’s official Web site. Once there, I found quite a bit of helpful advice, including these four pointed pointers:
1. Write a lot.
2. Don’t be in a hurry to publish.
3. Find the work that moves you the most deeply and read it over and over again.
I’ve had many great teachers, but the most valuable lessons I learned were
from writers on the page.
4. Be brave. Write what’s true for you. Write what you think. What about what
confuses you and compels you. Write about the crazy, hard, and beautiful.
Write what scares you. Write what makes you laugh and write what makes
you weep. Writing is risk and revelation. There’s no need to show up at
the party if you’re only going to stand around with your hands in
your pockets and stare at the drapes.
What else does Cheryl have to say that might be helpful to us all?
“It takes a tremendous amount of self-discipline, determination, and magical
thinking to keep the faith with a project such as a novel — what is it anyway,
aside from a story you made up while sitting alone in a room?”
“I wanted to write the best novel that had ever been written in the world,
but I finally had to let go of that and simply write the best novel I could
write. A novel, I acknowledged, that might end up being mediocre at best, that
might never be published or read or loved. Embracing those facts — that I
could only write the story I wanted to write and only to the best of my
abilities — was extremely liberating. It was what allowed me to finally
get to work and write my novel.”
“…there are good writing days and bad writing days and you simply have to ride
through them all the way to the end…”
I love what Cheryl says about being brave and that writing is about risk and revelation.