on writing. . .

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. . .I conclude that I’ve read and graded something like 10,000 pieces of written work over the last two decades. . .Maybe 95 percent of the corrections and comments I make on their work have to do with about fifty errors and problems. Those are the entries in How to Not Write Bad. If you master them, you might not be David Foster Wallace, but you’ll be ahead of almost all your fellow writers.  (p. 5-6)

Screen shot 2013-06-05 at 12.22.52 PMOne of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes. (p. 78-79)

Screen shot 2013-06-05 at 12.23.09 PMStruggling writers who “wait for inspiration” should get off their high horse and join the unwashed masses of real academic writers. (p. 26)

Successful professional writers, regardless of whether they’re writing novels, nonfiction, poetry, or drama, are prolific because they write regularly, usually every day. They reject the idea that they must be in the mood to write. As Keyes (2003) put it, ‘Serious writers write, inspired or not. Over time they disocver that routine is a better friend to them than inspiration” (p. 49). One might say that they make a schedule and stick to it. (p. 27)

Screen shot 2013-06-05 at 12.22.30 PMPerfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it. (p. 28)

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