Like all writers, I hate receiving rejections of my work. I don’t think it ever gets any easier, but as rejections are an integral part of being a traditionally published writer you just have to take it on the chin and carry on.

J.S.Watts
Interview with Peeking Cat Poetry

write more, write better

September 17, 2019

It’s a numbers game, folks. The more you try, the more you succeed. The less you try, the less you succeed. This is true for everything. If you write more, you will write better. If you think about line length more, you will think about line length better. If you submit more, you will publish more. If you submit better, you will publish better.”

Camille T. Dungy
Say Yes to Yourself: A Poet’s Guide to Living and Writing
May/June issue of Poets & Writers Magazine

Writing

July 6, 2019

…one ought to write without making corrections, not necessarily at full tilt, no, but at one’s own pace and in accordance with what one is experiencing at the time; one ought to eject what one writes, manhandle it almost, yes, treat it roughly, not try to trim profusion but let it be part of the whole, and not tone down anything either, whether its speed or its slowness, just leave everything as it is when it appears.

Marguerite Duras
Emily L
Trans. Barbara Bray

Lost & found

May 25, 2019

Rilke warned young poets against large sweeping topics, since those are the most difficult and demand great artistic maturity. He counselled them to write about what they see around them, how they live each day, what’s been lost, what’s been found. He encouraged them to bring the things that surround us into their art, images from dreams, remembered objects. ‘If daily life seems impoverished to you,’ he wrote, ‘don’t blame life. You yourself are to blame. You’re just not enough of a poet to perceive its wealth.’ This advice may seem mundane and dim-witted to you. This is why we called to our defence one of the most esoteric poets in world literature — and just see how he praised so-called ordinary things!

Wislawa Szymborska
Letter to Michal in Nowy Targ
Literary Life
Trans. Clare Cavanagh

Write freely

May 18, 2019

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 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.
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 theatre, 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.
4. 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.
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 drawing.
6. If you are using dialogue — say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.

John Steinbeck
letter to Robert Wallsten February, 1962

work on stories in his head

November 18, 2018

Louis L’Amour didn’t just commit to writing every single day. He created specific, targeted goals.

One such goal was to publish one short story every week.

Publish, not write. Not every story was accepted, so that meant L’Amour was writing far more than just 52 short stories every year, plus the full-length novels he worked on.

L’Amour’s overall process was somewhat legendary, he never outlined a project, and he categorically refused to edit anything. He simply sat down at a typewriter and wrote.

However, he did have a very specific process, one that helped negate the need for outlining and editing.

He would work on stories in his head for months and sometimes years, taking copious supporting notes, so when he did start tapping on the keyboard, he was essentially writing a finished draft.

Finally, he had a very strict “three strikes rule,” if he couldn’t get a project right by the third time around, he would toss the pages into a pile, and go on to the next project.

Susanna Fitzgerald
Five things copywriters can learn from best selling writer Louis L’Amour

write regularly

May 21, 2018

You can only write regularly if you’re willing to write badly…Accept bad writing as a way of priming the pump, a warm-up exercise that allows you to write well.

Jennifer Egan
Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do edited by Meredith Maran

Open all your senses

May 19, 2018

Here is a way to approach making poetry. Recall an experience. Let it flow into your head into your body until you know fully again what is now memory. Open all your senses: see, hear, smell, taste, touch again what you lived. Focus on one moment. Feel it completely. Do not try to understand it yet. Tell about it. Let the words come. Are they questions? Answers? Write so the reader and listeners respond with their senses, so that they let their bodies think. Do not explain: reveal. Let the image you create work for you. Ask the poem to talk, silently and aloud. People will listen and hear.

Katharyn Howd Machan
On Writing Poetry

Egon Schiele - Standing Girl in Blue Dress

A mode of understanding life which wilfully ignores so much can do so only at the peril of thoroughly distorting the rest. A mode of understanding literature which can ignore the private lives of half the human race is not “incomplete”; it is distorted through and through. Feminist criticism of the early 1970s began by pointing out the simplest of these distortions, that is, that the female characters of even our greatest realistic “classics” by male writers are often not individualized portraits of possible women, but creations of fear and desire.

Joanna Russ
How to suppress Women’s Writing

Sometime after my first drafts are completed, months or even years, I come back to the material to look for the poems hidden in the handwritten scrawl. I turn to the typewriter when I begin experimenting with forms, usually stanzas employing syllabic or accentual count lines. I never use a computer in working on poems – I want to slow the process down, not speed it up.

Laurence Lieberman
Writing Advice from Poets
Writer’s Digest 11th March 2008