it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

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"Try again. Fail again. Fail better."

Sometimes you find that what you thought was 'beginner writing advice' is actually a Zen koan, and the more you learn about writing, the more that 'simple beginner advice' means.

Bleed on the page.

Choose the right word.

Show don't tell.

Omit needless words! Omit needless words!

Write what you know.

Tell a goddamned story.

I've had to reassess my estimation of what every one of those sentences means at least half a dozen times over the past ten years.

Here are some more pithy bits of wisdom.

More recent ones available here.


You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

--Jack London


I just found a Tolkein riff in Bridge of Blood & Iron that I forgot was there. There are a bunch of Tolkein riffs in it. Also a bunch of Shakespeare, Bible, balladic, and Arthurian riffs, and a Zelazny homage or two...

But I had forgetten the scene where one character asks another, slyly, "Haven't you ever wanted to see elves?"

It's even a selfconscious Tolkein reference, because the character is doing it on purpose.

How do we manage to forget writing this stuff?


Don't say you were a bit confused and sort of tired and a little depressed and somewhat annoyed. Be tired. Be confused. Be depressed. Be annoyed. Don't hedge your prose with little timidities. Good writing is lean and confident.

--William Zinsser
Tags: writer koans
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