Posts tagged ‘advice for writers’

November 20, 2013

Hemingway on How to Be a Writer

My beloved Brain Pickings has done it again. This time, Maria Popova has found a wonderful excerpt from Hemingway on Writing, in which Hemingway poses as “Your Correspondent,” answering the questions of “MICE” (aspiring writers.) Granted, mice is not the most flattering name Hemingway could have chosen for young writers, but perhaps with his knowledge we will one day graduate to correspondents. Hemingway writes:

MICE: How can a writer train himself?

Y.C.: Watch what happens today. If we get into a fish see exactly what it is that everyone does. If you get a kick out of it while he is jumping remember back until you see exactly what the action was that gave you the emotion. Whether it was the rising of the line from the water and the way it tightened like a fiddle string until drops started from it, or the way he smashed and threw water when he jumped. Remember what the noises were and what was said. Find what gave you the emotion; what the action was that gave you the excitement. Then write it down making it clear so the reader will see it too and have the same feeling that you had. That’s a five finger exercise.

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October 30, 2013

7 Life Lessons for Writers (and Everyone Else)

mauricesendakposters9Maria Popova of the wonderful website Brain Pickings recently celebrated seven years creating that site. As her way of acknowledging the achievement, Maria compiled seven life lessons that she has learned over the course of the last seven years. These lessons apply to the population at large, and more specifically to artists, and even more specifically to writers. If you’re feeling stifled or stuck or if you want to take your career and life to the next level, read on:

  1. Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind.Cultivate that capacity for “negative capability.” We live in a culture where one of the greatest social disgraces is not having an opinion, so we often form our “opinions” based on superficial impressions or the borrowed ideas of others, without investing the time and thought that cultivating true conviction necessitates. We then go around asserting these donned opinions and clinging to them as anchors to our own reality. It’s enormously disorienting to simply say, “I don’t know.” But it’s infinitely more rewarding to understand than to be right — even if that means changing your mind about a topic, an ideology, or, above all, yourself.
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February 8, 2013

Quote of the Day: Darrell Schweitzer

If you don’t know it, don’t write it.

October 11, 2012

Quote of the Day: Ellen Datlow

Never throw up on an editor.

April 17, 2012

How to Talk to Hollywood (and Be Taken Seriously)

Peter Hanson has written a great article for Script Magazine featuring ten tips for talking to Hollywood. Whether you’re writing a query, making a cold call, or pitching your script in an actual meeting, these tips will help you present yourself professionally and effectively. (And they’ll help keep you from making an ass out of yourself.)

Peter writes:

 The movie business is just like any other private club, and once you learn the secret handshake (metaphorically speaking), you can get in the door.

The following tips are applicable to every possible interaction you might have with Hollywood professionals. You can use this advice for a cold call to a production company, an in-person approach to an executive or producer at a film festival or pitch fest, or even a Hollywood meeting.

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April 16, 2012

Quote of the Day: W Somerset Maugham

There is no need for the writer to eat a whole sheep to be able to tell you what mutton tastes like.  It is enough if he eats a cutlet.  But he should do that.

November 30, 2011

Hitting a Wall in Your Writing: How to Break Through

This article out of Script Magazine by Pen Densham offers practical advice for getting past that wall standing between you and your next great scene:

Harnessing your creativity can be both deliciously mysterious and overwhelmingly frustrating. It often will NOT run on rails.

Whether you react to a blockage by cursing and kicking a hole in the landlord’s wall or retreating to a dark cupboard with a pint of Dreyer’s best frozen sugar bomb, remember …

Have faith that ideas are going to come to you.

I often run into an apparent dead-end. Especially if I am writing a new piece without all my elements and structure figured out. One technique I have learned is to commit the problem to my subconscious and move on to another area. Even quit and take a break altogether. The phrase “sleep on it” is more than just folk wisdom – it works!

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