A Few Truths About Writing

Through extremely inefficient experiments, I’ve come to realize a few truths about writing—truths that I will, undoubtedly, revisit and revise many, many times.

Value the days when the right words just come to you, but don’t rely on them. They will be hugely outnumbered by the days that you need to search for what you’re trying to say.

You will fail. You will be rejected. You will feel the wind is always blowing east and all you want to do is go west. Tenacity. Patience. The ability to talk yourself down from the giving-up cliff. These are what will get you where you want to go.

Accept early on that there’s no such thing as a “perfect writing space.” Phones will ring, baristas will spill coffee on you, and your apartment could have the acoustics of an elementary school gym. Wipe off your pants, order another coffee, put on some headphones, and write anyway.

If you can, live in New York City for a time, do it. It’s a place of serendipity and heartache and glamour and grit. It’s a place that stays with you always.

If you are reviewing someone else’s art—whether it’s a dance, novel, painting, or piece of music written for kazoos—remember that there’s a person behind the work and that it’s possible to be honest and entertaining without being cruel.

Research writing. Read about writing and writers. Talk about writing with friends. Try out classes and workshops. Be willing to study and work really, really hard.

Books About Writing

There are a lot of books out there that will tell you how to write. This is not necessarily a list of those books (though all of them are very helpful). Rather, this is a list of titles that remind me again and again why I write. I return to these books when I find myself questioning why I do what I do, when I need to remember how to get out of my own way, and when I need a heavy dose of inspiration.

You are not writing from what you know. You are writing from more than you know.

Nancy Willard

The Left-Handed Story

Essays About Writing

Videos About Writing