Sunday, July 31, 2016

Books Versus The Internet

E-book sales have plateaued. Bookstores have staged a modest resurgence. Turning off your phone has become a prized luxury. Over these last few years all of us, readers and writers alike, have developed a growing appreciation for what the Internet wants to take away: our time alone with the written word.

Lorin Stein 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Some Novelists, Before They Start a New Book, Know How It Will End

I almost know how a book is going to end before I start. In most cases, I have a good last paragraph before I start on page one.

William Boyd 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Achieving Literary Fame

My idea of fame is to get the books out to the pubic so they can read them.

T. C. Boyle 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Friday, April 15, 2016

Write What You Know

I have always tried to keep the setting of my novels as far as possible within the confines of my own experience.

Ngio Marsh 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

How One Writer Launches His Novels

I try to get the right people assembled, give them right-sounding names, and then I'm off and running.

Elmore Leonard 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Real Writers Don't Wait For Inspiration

Only writers in movies wait for inspiration. Real writers work on schedules, different ones for different writers, but always structured. Ask any writer you know.

Ed McBain 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Facing the Blank Page

Many times, I just sit for three  hours with no ideas coming to me. But I know one thing; if an idea does come between nine and twelve, I am there ready for it.

Flannery O'Connor

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A Writer Must Be Persistent

The one talent that is indispensable to a writer is persistence. You must write the book, else there is no book. It will not finish itself.

Tom Clancy

Friday, April 1, 2016

Writers Have to Live With Rejection

When you get used to being disappointed, the recovery time gets shorter, the time you need before you get back to work gets shorter and shorter.

Colson Whitehead 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Got An Idea For a Book Or Article?

Ask a professional writer about ideas. In all likelihood, he'll ask, "Which ideas?" because he's got a million of them, and his biggest problem is choosing one.

Richard Curtis

Friday, March 25, 2016

Are We All Creative?

Creativity is as natural to human beings as having blood and bone.

Julia Cameron

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Do You Enjoy Writing?

I have never been one of those "writing is fun" people. Writing has never been a pleasure for me.

Reynolds Price 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Writing Well Is Not Easy For Anyone

Writing is hard for everybody, and I mistrust writers who find it easy. And it's still hard for me after all these years, but that's probably a good sign that it is.

Roger Angell

Friday, March 18, 2016

Writers Never Die

Writers never die while people still quote them.

Gregory David Roberts

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Inability To Write Well Is Not a Character Flaw

If you have difficulty with writing, do not conclude that there is something wrong with you. Writing should never be a test of self-esteem. If things are not going as you want, do not see it as proof of a flaw in your subconscious.

Ayn Rand

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Poetry: The Unread Genre

Most poetry won't be read even five years after it's published, let alone 20, and definitely not 100. Most poets won't find their work growing more and more noticed; they will find it growing less and less noticed, until it vanishes entirely from everything but a few water-stained notebooks in a cardboard box in the basement.

David Orr 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

George Orwell On Why He Writes

Why I write, sheer egoism. It is humbug to pretend that this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen--in short, with the whole top crust of humanity.

George Orwell 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Literary Sacred Cows

About the only person you can write badly of in literature and not hear about it is the white American Male, which must tell you something.

Charles Bukowski

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Urge to Write

The aesthetic gift is a process that begins with conception, often exciting, goes through gestation, usually exhausting, and ends with birth, which is invariably laborious, protracted, and painful.

James M. Cain

Monday, March 7, 2016

What is the Force Behind Being Creative?

What drives creativity is discomfort and even a degree of hardship. Genius doesn't require paradise.

Eric Weiner

Sunday, March 6, 2016

A Reason to Write

The reason I write is to explain my life to myself. I've also discovered that when I do, I'm explaining other people's lives to them.

Pat Conroy

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Literary Sentences That Don't Add Up To Much

I think sometimes we give people a lot of credit just because they're writing nice sentences even if it isn't adding up to much.

James Patterson

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Professor-Writer

Professors are often shy, timid and even fearful people, and under these circumstances, dull, difficult prose can function as a kind of protective camouflage.

Patricia Nelson Limerick

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Creating a Novel's Tone

The tone of a novel may be described in words like comic, wry, reflective, tongue-in-cheek, bittersweet, or in compounds such as incipient fear, sense of lurking evil and sense of unease.

Lesley Grant-Adamson 

Monday, February 29, 2016

As a Writer, Don't Worry Too Much About the First Draft

The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile.

Robert Cormier 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Philosopher Novelist

I am a philosopher, I write novels only on the weekend.

Umberto Eco

Monday, February 22, 2016

When Not To Write

Never, never at night. I don't believe in writing at night because it comes too easily. When I read it in the morning it's not good. I need daylight to begin.

Gunter Grass

Friday, February 19, 2016

Finding the Strength To Write a Novel

[To complete a novel] physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.

Haruki Murakami 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

A Night Writer

I never work [write] in the mornings unless I'm in real trouble.

Tom Stoppard 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Henry Miller's Writing Secrets

I don't believe in draining the reservoir. I believe in getting up from the typewriter, away from it, while I still have things to say. I know that to sustain those true moments of insight one has to be highly disciplined, lead a disciplined life.

Henry Miller 

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Writing of "Ulysses"

All in all I calculate that I must have spent nearly 20,000 hours in writing Ulysses.

James Joyce

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Spare Time Writer

I was brought up to think you had to have a day job, and write in your spare time.

Philip Larkin

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Depressed Writer

I shall always be depressed, but what comforts me is the realization that I can now accept this dark side as the commanding side of my personality. In accepting it, I will make it work for me.

Samuel Beckett 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

An Almost Permanent Case of Writer's Block

I really don't adhere to writing schedules at all. The times that I've tried that, when I have been in a slump and I try to get out of it by saying, "Come on, Ann, sit down at the typewriter," I've gotten in a worse slump. It's better if I just let it ride. I've learned I can't force it. I certainly am a moody and, I would say, not very happy person.

Ann Beattie 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Truman Capote: The "Horizontal" Writer

I am a completely horizontal writer. I can't think unless I'm lying down, either in bed or stretched out on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I've got to be puffing and sipping. As the afternoon wears on, I shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis.

Truman Capote 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

One Novelist's Life Habits

My habits are simple, my tastes banal, soccer matches on the TV, an occasional cup of wine or a gulp of canned beer, sunbaths on the lawn, and composing chess problems.

Vladimir Nabokov 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Self-Disciplined Novelist

Someone once called me a bureaucrat among writers because my self-discipline seemed excessive. It seemed excessive to me, too.

Saul Bellow

Friday, February 5, 2016

F. Scott Fitzgerald And His Booze

It has become increasingly plain to me that the very excellent organization of a long novel or the finest perceptions and judgment in time of revision do not go well with liquor.

F. Scott Fitzgerald 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Tolstoy's Work Habits

I must write each day without fail, not so much for the success of the work, as in order not to get out of my routine.

Leo Tolstoy 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Difficulty of Writing in a Plain, Clear Style

Last night I began my novel [Madame Bovary]. Now I foresee terrifying difficulties of style. It's no easy business to be simple.

Gustave Flaubert 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Using Novelistic Techniques in Writing Nonfiction

Creative nonfiction requires the skills of the storyteller and the research ability of the conscientious reporter. Writers of creative nonfiction must become instant authorities on the subjects of their articles or books. They must not only understand the facts and report them using quotes from authorities, they must also see beyond them to discover their underlying meaning, and they must dramatize that meaning in an interesting, evocative, informative way--just as a good teacher does.

Theodore A. Reese Cheney 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Writing on a Sugar High

For seven years I ate at Bob's Big Boy. I would go at 2:30, after the lunch rush. I ate a chocolate shake and four, five, six, seven cups of coffee--with lots of sugar. And there's lots of sugar in that chocolate shake. It's a thick shake. In a silver goblet. I would get a rush from all this sugar, and I would get so many ideas! I would write them on these napkins. I was like I had a desk with paper. All I had to do was remember to bring my pen, but a waitress would give me one if I remembered to return it at the end of my stay. I got a lot of ideas at Bob's.

David Lynch 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

William Faulkner on The Inspiration to Write

I write when the spirit moves me, and the spirit moves me every day.

William Faulkner 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tom Wolfe on Narrative Nonfiction

I certainly always use novelistic techniques [in nonfiction writing], but I also feel that the lines between fact and fiction should never be blurred.

Tom Wolfe 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Novels Based on Ideas Rather Than Plot and Character

In a novel, implausibility is fatal. And fakeness almost always ensues when situations and characters are extracted from ideas. When ideas emerge organically from situations and characters, the opposite effect is produced. Philosophy, however, must not seem real. It must actually be real, advancing its arguments, as in a geometric proof, through a succession of facts.

Benjamin Moser 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Who Reads Historical Novels?

Enviously noting the insatiable public appetite for television dramas like "Downton Abby," writers often lament the prospects for their historical novels, which have faint hopes of attracting anything resembling such sizable audiences.

Randy Boyagoda 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Write The Book That Only You Can Write

Why bother writing a book that someone else could write--just a historical novel that you research in libraries and on the Internet? If I'm going to add a book to the endless mass of books out there, then it should be a book that only I can write.

Nell Zink 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Reading What You Have Written To Others

When I stand over the podium and crack open my book for an audience I cringe. I suppose I haven't plateaued yet. You should, as a writer, always be disgusted with your previous work.

Benjamin Percy 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Hyper-Intellectual Novel

There's a fashion now [2015] for fat, hyper-intellectual, cooler-than-thou novels that are loaded with lard and siphoned of believable feeling…

Mary Karr

Friday, January 15, 2016

Aspiring Authors Are On Their Own

No advice is useful, as you, an aspiring writer, already know. You have read Rilke's letters to a young poet. I'm sure you remember the first letter: "No one can advise and help you, no one." You know James Baldwin's words in is Paris Review interview: "If you are going to be a writer there is nothing I can say to stop you; if you're not going to be a writer nothing I can say will help you."

Siddhartha Deb

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

To Be Interesting, Novels Need Villains

Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.

Simone Weil 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Question True Crime Writers Can't Answer

Murder. Dismemberment. Rape. Cannibalism. Jack the Ripper. The Newtown Shooter. Why are we fascinated by murder and murderers, by acts of evil and those who perpetrate them?

     Tabloids, biopics and even dignified, well-researched accounts of serial murders indulge our appetite for real-life horror, dishing up the lurid details--the mutilated body, the serving woman found bleeding on her pillow, the severed head floating downriver--and sell millions of copies. But these works usually leave the central, most troubling questions unanswered. Not only the obvious ones: Why did the murderer commit the crime?

Charlotte Gordon 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Prolific Writers Just Work Harder

I write and write and write, and rewrite, and even if I retain only a single page from a full day's work, it is a single page, and these pages add up. As a result I have acquired the reputation over the years of being prolix when in fact I am measured against people who simply don't work as hard or as long. Getting the first draft finished is like pushing a peanut with your nose across a very dirty floor.

Joyce Carol Oates 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Is There Such a Thing as a Professional Writer?

I may be a Professional Writer to the I.R.S. when I file my tax returns, but in creative terms, I'm still an amateur, still learning my craft.

Stephen King 

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Common Dead Spot in Most Biographies

Most biographies have to slog through an only marginally interesting youth until the real story kicks in.

Joseph Kanon 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Importance of Alcohol and Drugs in Writers' Lives

Alcohol and drug abuse are leitmotifs of writers' lives and work, from Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium Eater to Caroline Knapp's Drinking: A Love Story. 

Sara Paretsky 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Enduring Popularity of the Memoir Genre

The vogue for memoir, like all vogues, comes and goes. But the impulse perseveres. Celebrities, addicts, abuse victims, politicians, soldiers, grieving children: Everyone has a story to tell and a conviction that the world wants to hear it--and often enough, if the best-seller lists are any indication, the world does.

Gregory Cowles 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Influence Old Novels Have on the New

Novels have to primary sources: writers' life experiences or their art experiences--although I suppose more religious writers might also make room for divine inspiration. While it's popular in publicity to focus on the life experience that informs a book, a writer's art experiences are just as responsible for how a story emerges from the imagination and eventually appears on the page. As Cormac McCarthy once said: "the ugly fact is books are made out of books. The novel depends for its life on the novels that have been written."

Matt Bell


Sunday, January 3, 2016

A Writer Without a Writing Routine

I wish I had a routine for writing. I get up in the morning and I go out to to my studio and I write. And then I tear it up! That's the routine, really. Then, occasionally, something sticks. And then I follow that. The only image I can think of is a man walking around with an iron rod in his hand during a lightening storm.

Arthur Miller 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Being Inspired to Write

I write when the spirit moves me, and the spirit moves me every day.

William Faulkner 

Friday, January 1, 2016

When Does Satire Become Bullying?

Broadly speaking, if satire strikes upward, outward or inward, it's satire. If it strikes downward, it's bullying.

James Parker