Who knew after a diagnosis of FBC (f-bomb breast cancer for new readers) that I would find a new passion and profession in writing. It’s pretty exciting, inspiring and, truth be told, nerve-wracking. At the end of the day, though, writing always brings Silver Linings into my life, for which I am extraordinarily grateful!
Recently, I’ve been doing A LOT of writing outside of The Silver Pen (more on that later). Writing for The Silver Pen is like chatting with friends and comes naturally and easily. Other types of writing are more challenging. I happen to be a person who loves a good challenge, though (Silver Lining).
The other day, I was in a particular pickle, having a challenging time getting my motors revved which meant that I was procrastinating in a big way. As a consequence, I now have extraordinarily clean drawers, closets, and cupboards (does anyone still use the word cupboard? I happen to love that word).
A big, juicy Silver Lining came in my inbox from a super fun site called, Brain Pickings. The title of the post: 6 Tips on Writing by John Steinbeck. Seriously. I mean tips on writing from one of the most important authors of the 20th century…in my inbox…exactly when I needed it?!? It could not have been better timed. I just love when that s**t happens. It’s the BEST!
For all of you John Steinbeck fans (and/or writers!), I hope that you enjoy these words of wisdom!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you 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 it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.
- Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.
- If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.
Steinbeck’s also proffers a disclaimer to his words of wisdom:
If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that makes a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story.