Sherman Alexie’s Top 10 Pieces of Advice for Writers

Photo by Larry D. Moore: CC BY-SA 3.0

National Book Award winner Sherman Alexie’s birthday is Sunday, and his new title Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories was released this week. To celebrate the short-story writer (War Dances), poet (The Business of Fancydancing) and novelist (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian), here’s some advice Alexie shared with us in the magazine (which also included pieces by Erik Larson, Chuck Palahniuk and many others).

Happy Friday. And happy birthday, Sherman.


The Top 10 Pieces of Writing Advice I’ve Been Given (Or That I’ll Pretend Were Given to Me)

by Sherman Alexie

[10] Don’t Google search yourself.

[9] When you’ve finished Google searching yourself, don’t do it again.

[8] Every word on your blog is a word not in your book.

[7] Don’t have any writing ceremonies. They’re just a way to stop you from writing.

[6] Turn your readings into events. Perform and write with equal passion.

[5] Read 1,000 pages for every one you try to write.

[4] In fiction, research is overrated. But that means readers will write you correcting all of your minor biographical, geographical and historical errors. If you like, make those corrections in the paperback, but don’t sweat it too much.

[3] Don’t lose the sense of awe you feel whenever you meet one of your favorite writers. However, don’t confuse any writer’s talent with his or her worth as a human being. Those two qualities are not necessarily related.

[2] Subscribe to as many literary journals as you can afford.

[1] When you read a piece of writing that you admire, send a note of thanks to the author. Be effusive with your praise. Writing is a lonely business. Do your best to make it a little less lonely.

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4 thoughts on “Sherman Alexie’s Top 10 Pieces of Advice for Writers

  1. Seme

    So true about writers needing to read a lot – It’s fascinating how writers pass a spark along to the reader/writer that translates into unrelated ideas. I’ve heard other writer’s say that there is no such thing as writer’s block, so they must be avid readers! I’ve enjoyed your books and the sparks created by them!

  2. JR MacBeth

    Happy birthday Sherman. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. I actually don’t know what your “Blasphemy” is about, but I think I’m going to look it up, probably right up my alley. I liked your final bit of advice the best. Writing is a lonely business, and there are times I have been touched deeply by things I’ve read. It seems only right to perhaps let the writer know how you feel now and again. Thanks so much for this advice, I plan on acting on it.


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