Writing Tips From John Steinbeck

From The Atlantic:John Steinbeck

The Atlantic posted six writing tips from John Steinbeck—Pulitzer Prize-winner, Nobel laureate, love guru— culled from his altogether excellent interview it the Fall 1975 issue of The Paris Review.

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 theater, 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.

Check out the full post here.

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1 thought on “Writing Tips From John Steinbeck

  1. I like the idea of rewriting your life, epsiceally since I am a writer. Losing my mom to pancreatic cancer forever changed my life, the way I view things, who I am as a person. But I’ve learned that just because my mom died, didn’t mean that I did too. I lost my mom nearly 4 years ago, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her in some way. Although I will always miss her, I have healed (for the most part) from her illness and death. Writing has been may way of healing, and I started a blog in my mom’s memory and to help me heal. I am always trying to write several books. After my mom died, I didn’t know who I was. I felt lost. There was a huge hole in my life that I didn’t know how to fill. Slowly, very slowly, I am learning what it is like to live as just me not a daughter, or wife, or mother. Just me. I guess you could say that I am slowly rewriting my life.

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