Tag Archives: “20 Pieces of Writing Advice from William Faulkner: “Don’t be a ‘writer’ but instead be writing.”

Advice à la Stylo

Image result for william faulkner

(Hmm…cagey misdirection or evangelistic confidence?

Maybe a good ol’ pipe is all I need)

Emily Temple has an interesting piece in Literary Hub called “20 Pieces of Writing Advice from William Faulkner: “Don’t be ‘a writer’ but instead be writing.

What I love about this is that it can be applied (mostly) to everyday life and the challenges we face as partners, parents, employees…human beings. Here’s a snapshot of some of Mr. Faulkner’s choice thoughts:

On how to approach writing:

Keep it amateur. You’re not writing for money but for pleasure. It should be fun. And it should be exciting.

On technique:

Teach yourself by your own mistakes; people learn only by error.

On what makes a good novelist

He is completely amoral in that he will rob, borrow, beg, or steal from anybody and everybody to get the work done. . . . Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written.

On character:

The real truths come from human hearts.

On style:

I think anyone that spends too much of his time about his style, developing a style, or following a style, probably hasn’t got much to say and knows it and is afraid of it, and so he writes a style, a marvelous trove.

On writing towards the truth:

Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.

On failure:

All of us failed to match our dream of perfection. So I rate us on the basis of our splendid failure to do the impossible.

On what a writer needs:

[T]he only environment the artist needs is whatever peace, whatever solitude, and whatever pleasure he can get at not too high a cost.

On the writer’s essential toolkit:

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination—any two of which, at times any one of which—can supply the lack of the others.

On the best training for writing:

Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad; see how they do it.

And maybe the best piece of advice of all.

On also getting a job:

Don’t make writing your work. Get another job so you’ll have money to buy the things you want in life. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you don’t count on money and a deadline for your writing.

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