Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Becoming a WriterBecoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve loved this book for the last 15 years. First published in the 1930s — it’s so outdated that she talks about how you need a portable typewriter — this is hands-down the best book I’ve ever read on how to write and the only one you’ll ever need. Writers write, right?

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Zen in the Art of WritingZen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

You know how happy people can be really annoying? Well, writers who tell you that writing must be a complete joy (or you should quit writing) are annoying too. No matter how good a writer they are.

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It is to be remembered that all art is magical in origin—music, sculpture, writing, painting—and by magical I mean intended to produce very definite results. Writing and painting were one in cave paintings, which were formulae to ensure good hunting. Art is not an end in itself, any more than Einstein’s matter-into-energy formula is an end in itself. Like all formulae, art was originally functional, intended to make things happen, the way an atom bomb happens from Einstein’s formulae. — William S. Burroughs

Create a picture of the invisible unseen world with regards to writing and how to manipilate and control and harness those forces.

That’s what graffiti living really is.

“It’s not genius, it’s just that if you want something good to come out of something, you have to put in a lot of effort. That involves a lot of hard work, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears sometimes. No different to anything, no different to what we all do.” — Hubert Selby Jr

Plan by writing, not by planning.

Build from the bottom up.

Not building a wall — just making bricks.

Plan on-the-fly.

Need to research your novel?

Write it first, then research the bits that you need to fill in the gaps.

If you plan first, you’ll plan yourself out of existence.

If you make the perfect plan for your book, you’ll lose all desire to write the messy drafts required to finish the actual book.

Fluid drafts, within set parameters, as opposed to rigid work plans.

Keep it fluid.

I got an email from Noam Chomsky once — it felt like getting a post-it note from God. It was just a short note, to say he’d had to cancel his speaking engagements, but it still made my life.

I have nothing but the DEEPEST RESPECT for Noam Chomsky.

Chomsky once said: “It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies.”

And I can’t think of an intellectual heavyweight who has been a better living-embodiment of this than Chomsky himself.

As a writer, I’ve often wondered whether there’s room for fiction in this — can fiction speak the truth and expose lies?

George Orwell comes to mind.

This is the one question I’d most love to ask Noam Chomsky — the one subject I’d most love to discuss with him at length.

How can writers of fiction fight the good fight?

Is fiction important in this regard at all?

I like to think so… I have to!

In lieu of an answer, here’s a selection (by no means exhaustive) of quotes from Chomsky on writing, reading and literature:

“It is not unlikely that literature will forever give far deeper insight into what is sometimes called ‘the full human person’ than any modes of scientific inquiry may hope to do.”

“Literature can heighten your imagination and insight and understanding, but it surely doesn’t provide the evidence that you need to draw conclusions and substantiate conclusions.”

“Language is a process of free creation; its laws and principles are fixed, but the manner in which the principles of generation are used is free and infinitely varied. Even the interpretation and use of words involves a process of free creation.”

“Plainly, such an approach does not exclude other ways of trying to comprehend the world. Someone committed to it (as I am) can consistently believe (as I do) that we learn much more of human interest about how people think and feel and act by reading novels or studying history than from all of naturalistic psychology, and perhaps always will; similarly, the arts may offer appreciation of the heavens to which astrophysics cannot aspire.”

“..reading a book doesn’t mean just turning the pages. It means thinking about it, identifying parts that you want to go back to, asking how to place it in a broader context, pursuing the ideas. There’s no point in reading a book if you let it pass before your eyes and then forget about it ten minutes later. Reading a book is an intellectual exercise, which stimulates thought, questions, imagination.”

“Sometimes when I’m having a boring interview on the telephone, and I’m trying to think about something else because the questions are too boring, and I start looking around the room where I work, you know, full of books piled up to the sky, all different kinds of topics. I start calculating how many centuries would I have to live reading twenty-four hours a day every day of the week to make a dent in what I’d like to learn about things, it’s pretty depressing.[…] You know, we have little bits of understanding, glimpses, a little bit of light here and there, but there’s a tremendous amount of darkness, which is a challenge. I think life would be pretty boring if we understood everything. It’s better if we don’t understand anything… and know that we don’t, that’s the important part.”

“The responsibility of the writer as a moral agent is to try to bring the truth about matters of human significance to an audience that can do something about them.”