Tag Archives: Stephen King

How to write it

This is Part Three of a three-part series on writing. The series incorporates stated views of several well-known writers and their observations about the craft.

Over the last two days, we have commiserated with some of  the world’s noted writers in confronting the difficulties of writing and we have read their reasons for writing.

Today, we’ll wrap up the series by pretending to ask them for advice on what makes good writing. Here’s what they said:

Stephen King – “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. Your stuff starts out being just for you, in other words, but then it goes out.”

King also said that, “In truth, I’ve found that any day’s routine interruptions and distractions don’t much hurt a work in progress and may actually help it in some ways. It is, after all, the dab of grit that seeps into an oyster’s shell that makes the pearl, not pearl-making seminars with other oysters.”

Mark Twain suggested, “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” 

Twain also said word choice is critical: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

Anton Chekhov  — “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” 

Baltasar Gracián – “A synonym is a word you use when you can’t spell the other one.”

Jean-Luc Godard – “A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end… but not necessarily in that order.”

I find this final quote relevant to modern day writing. In the following passage, substitute the word “diaries” with “blogs” and you’ll see what I mean:

Ann Beattie — “It seems to me that the problem with diaries, and the reason that most of them are so boring, is that every day we vacillate between examining our hangnails and speculating on cosmic order.”

Once again, would you care to share writing techniques that work for you?

See you Monday.

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Filed under All Things Wordish, Quotes, Reading

Just write it

This is Part One of a three-part series on writing. The series incorporates stated views of several well-known writers and their observations about the craft.

After 25 years of writing for business, I started Word Nymph as a place to practice writing for pleasure. You have been patient and gracious guinea pigs.

At key intervals—one month online or the 100th blog post—I have reflected on the lessons I’ve learned. The effort has been underway for about eight months now, with my 200th entry appearing this weekend.

I have never written a book, and likely never will, but I’ve often thought I’d like to give it a try. Nonetheless, I do pay attention to what authors, playwrights and songwriters have observed about the writing process.

American novelist Philip Roth (Goodbye Columbus) was interviewed recently while promoting his new novel, Nemesis. Vanity Fair’s John Heilpern asked Roth, “Do you find writing difficult?” Roth responded, “I find it arduous and un-doable. It’s laden with fear and doubt. It’s never easy—not for me.” I imagine that creative juices, a sharp personal discipline and handsome advances eventually help one over the hurdles.

Even as an amateur blogger, I find I can relate to the observations of a few of the writing maestros:

Stephen King, from his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft – “The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

Sharon O’Brien – “Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning.  I wanted to know what I was going to say.”

James Michener – “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”

John Osborne“Asking a writer what he thinks about criticism is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs.”

Over the next couple of days, I’d like to share insights from other famous writers, including why they write and their techniques for good writing.

Perhaps you have thought of doing more writing. Have you been carrying around a novel idea in your head, or did you read or watch Julie & Julia and think to yourself, I could do that? There’s only one way to find out. Do it.

Don’t be daunted by the comments of Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith, who said, “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” Or  Gene Fowler, who said, “Writing is easy:  All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” 

Just come back tomorrow and Saturday for goodies to put in your writer’s toolbox.


Filed under All Things Wordish, Quotes, Reading