Skip to main content

Your Moment of Friday Writing Zen: Simple Writing Advice to Keep You Going This Weekend

Your Moment of Friday Writing Zen: Simple Writing Advice to Keep You Going This Weekend

Every week, I spelunk into the Writer’s Digestarchives to find the wisest, funniest, or downright strangest moments from our 92 years of publication.

Today, from August 1967, are highlights of a love letter to language by Arnold Gingrich, the co-founder of Esquire magazine. In 1967, he presented the keynote at the first annual Writer's Digest Conference—and offered up this writing advice, which was later printed in the magazine.

It’s good solace for busy, stressed-out writers and editors on a Friday afternoon.

* * *

"Never leave well enough alone, because the word, which was there in the beginning, will be there long after you and I are gone, and finished with our attempts to arrange it into patterns of truth. It will survive all our efforts to improve it, and will defy all but a few of the efforts that will follow ours. But the words will always count, in the sum total of human experience, and our time with them is much too short to have any fear that our mastery of them may ever be complete.

“Meanwhile let us rejoice that we have the privilege of dealing with the things that matter most, for it was the word that first distinguished us from the animals in our long upward climb from the ooze and slime of our primordial beginning, and it is the word that will always distinguish us, no matter what new tricks we teach them, from the machines of this new age.

“It was the words that, on Shakespeare's tongue, long turned to dust, made good his promise that they would outlive as indeed they have many's ‘the gilded monument of princes.’

“In a creative business, such as ours, the quantitative factors are subject to infinite enhancement, through mechanical miracles now present and to come, but the qualitative elements, thank God, are still subject to improvement only through such old-fashioned means as elbow grease and midnight oil."

* * *

Also! The winner of our free book drawing last week: Celia37. Celia, please shoot me an email at writersdigest [at] fwmedia [dot] com with “WD: For Zachary Petit” in the subject line, and I’ll send you a list of books to choose a title from. For everyone else out there, to get in on the action and make yourself eligible to win a book from our swag stacks, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post by the end of next week. (As always, thank you for helping us to control the teetering WD tower of ARCs.)

For more vintage quotes, writing advice and wisdoms from 90 years of Writer's Digest, check out our 90-year retrospective here.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Dance Time

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Dance Time

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have your characters dance.

Convention-al Wisdom: Why I Love Attending Cons as a Writer

Convention-al Wisdom: Why I Love Attending Cons as a Writer

Russell James shares how convention act as more than networking events for writers, but as an opportunity to be face-to-face with your readers, to make new friends, and more.

Alicia Thompson: On Writing Romance in Isolating Times

Alicia Thompson: On Writing Romance in Isolating Times

Writer Alicia Thompson discusses what she learned about herself in writing her new romance novel, Love in the Time of Serial Killers.

Examples of Hooks for Books

60 Examples of Hooks for Books

This post collects 60 examples of hooks for books. Also called elevator pitches, these book hooks show real-life examples in a variety of writing genres for fiction and nonfiction books.

How To Turn Artifacts and Research Into a Family Memoir

How To Turn Artifacts and Research Into a Family Memoir

A century’s old family heirloom acted as a clue to the past for author Cornelia Maude Spelman. Here, she shares how to turn artifacts and research into a family memoir.

Miriam Parker: On Writing the Book You Want To Read

Miriam Parker: On Writing the Book You Want To Read

Author and publisher Miriam Parker discusses her surprise at writing her new novel, Room and Board.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 622

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a story poem.

7 Tips for Fictionalizing Real Historical Characters

7 Tips for Fictionalizing Real Historical Characters

When to retell history, when to imagine new scenarios, and who’s safe to use as a subject—author Gill Paul shares 7 tips for fictionalizing real historical characters.

A Thief in the Market

A Thief in the Market

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, someone is stealing from small business owners.