Sherman Alexie’s Top 10 Pieces of Advice for Writers

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

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.

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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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