Dear Literary Ladies

How can I find my unique writing voice?

Dear Literary Ladies,
My desire to be a really good writer exceeds nearly all else. But like a lot of artists, I fear what I want most. It’s like I’m tripping over my own feet. I’m self-conscious and that “trying too hard” style shows up in my writing. How can I get out of my own way and find my unique voice?

The business of writing is a personal problem and must be worked out in an individual way. A great many people ambitious to write, fall by the wayside, but if they are the discourageable kind it is better that they drop out. No beginner knows what [she] has to go through with or [she] would never begin. Read More→


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How do you develop ideas for plots?

Dear Literary Ladies, 
How does a writer develop plot, and more specifically, how do you develop scraps of ideas into plots?

When I start working on a book, which is usually several years and several books before I start to write it, I am somewhat like a French peasant cook. There are several pots on the back of the stove, and as I go by during the day’s work, I drop a carrot in one, and onion in another . . . When it comes time to prepare the meal, I take the pot which is nearly full and bring it to the front of the stove. Read More→


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How can I stick to a writing schedule?

Dear Literary Ladies,
I would dearly love to call myself a professional writer, but I’m so easily distracted. After the kids go to school, it’s off to work, the gym, and endless errands. On weekends, I entertain family or visit with friends. In the midst of all this, I can’t seem to find time to write. How can I fit everything in?

To be a professional writer one must be prepared to give up almost everything except living. Amateur writers are not included in this rule (I loathe loud-talking amateurs of any walk of life. Read More→


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Should you write for yourself, or for others?

Dear Literary Ladies,
Which is better—to write purely to please yourself, or to write with an audience in mind?

No, you don’t write for yourself or for others. You write out of a deep inner necessity. If you are a writer, you have to write, just as you have to breathe, or if you’re a singer you have to sing. But you’re not aware of doing it for someone. Read More→


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Do I Have Enough Wisdom to Be a Good Writer?

Dear Literary Ladies,
Sometimes I feel that I don’t have enough life experience to be a good writer. Everything I write, in hindsight, looks rather shallow and inauthentic. Should I wait until I’ve lived more fully, and gain some wisdom, before I bare my soul to the public in writing, or should I just plow ahead?

I wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God in Haiti. It was dammed up in me, and I wrote it in seven weeks. I wish I could write it again. In fact, I regret all of my books. It is one of the tragedies of life that one cannot have all the wisdom one is ever to possess in the beginning. Read More→


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