“The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.”
“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”
“You know how advice is. You only want it if it agrees with what you wanted
to do anyway.”
John Steinbeck had a storied career. Best known for Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, and East of Eden, he won both the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize. In the Fall 1975 issue of The Paris Review, he offered six writing tips:
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 quickly as possible and throw your whole story on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewriting in process is usually an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with the flow and rhythm, which can come only 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 person.
4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you think you still want it — bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason that it gave trouble is that it doesn’t belong there.
5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of [the] drawing [you are trying to create].
6. If you are using dialogue — say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.”
Points to ponder as we all write on!