5 for Friday: Writing Advice and Reflections on the Process


Happy Friday, All. I found some great writing advice and writing reflections in The Glimmer Train Guide to Writing Fiction and thought I’d share it with all of you… Enjoy and happy writing!

1.       Edwidge Danticat on finishing…

The biggest obstacle in terms of the writing itself is finding something that keeps you writing and allows you to finish pieces. I was always struggling with that self-doubt about what I was doing, sometimes with the material, sometimes with the process itself. Someone gave me the best advice I’ve ever had. I couldn’t finish anything I had started because they never lived up to what I had in my mind, and this friend said that my writing never matched my vision because the mind is infinite and there are only so many words in any language. Once I settled with that, I could continue to write


2.      Chang-rae Lee on individuality…

Don’t listen to anyone else. Its great to get opinions and advice, but you need to follow the particular private passion and obsession that you have for a story, giving no quarter to anything else. In the end, that’s where writers come up with something unique. That’s why novels still mean something even in this age—they’re distinctive performances, utterly singular and surprising. Follow your passion. Feed your obsessions and in the end that will work best.


3.      Jayne Anne Phillips on language…

It’s the same process no matter what I’m working on. I work according to language. I work starting with language, so that my process is simply to work my way into the next sentence. Sustaining the voice of a book is level one, where I have to stay to move forward. I work very slowly, until I find my way into the middle of the book and I know what to write next by reading what I’ve already written until I know where to go next.


4.      Lynn Freed on place…

When the writing comes properly, the place is there, available to me. If I have to strain to know a place, I’m in the wrong fiction. I’m always saying to students that one must colonize the territory of the fiction. It is the only metaphor that seems to carry with it the presumptuousness of fiction, the sense of making a place one’s own. In this case, I mean it literally. One has to make it one’s own, so that, in a way, it is more than real; it is assumed.


5.      Joyce Thompson on beginning…

After you have the kernel of a book in mind, hold off starting to write it as long as you can, until you absolutely can’t wait any longer. All the time you’re not writing, your subconscious is writing anyway, so when you actually do start, you know a good deal more of the story than you imagined.


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0 thoughts on “5 for Friday: Writing Advice and Reflections on the Process

  1. Zachary Grimm

    Thank you for these, Kate! They are ALWAYS helpful in some way, and I think it is really neat how you dedicate one day to posting inspiring and helpful words from those who have gone before us writers.