Excerpted from Becoming a Writer (1934) by Dorothea Brande, proving that good writing advice is timeless: There is a sort of writer’s magic. There is a procedure which many an author has come upon by happy accident or has worked out for himself which can, in part, be taught.
To be ready to learn it you will have to go by a rather roundabout way, first considering the main difficulties which you will meet, then embarking on simple, but stringently self-enforced exercises to overcome those difficulties. Last of all you must have faith, or the curiosity, to take one odd piece of advice which will be unlike any of the exhortations that have come your way in classrooms or in textbooks.
“How quickly the minutes fly when you are writing to please your heart. I pity those who write for money or for fame. Money is debasing, and fame transitory and exacting. But for your own heart … Oh, what a difference!”
—Anaïs Nin, The Early Diaries of Anaïs Nin, October, 1921
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Ah, youth! To be unconcerned with the intersection of art and commerce, to create only to please your own heart! How lovely, how idealistic—but ultimately, if you want to shape any semblance of a career doing what you love, how unrealistic. There’s no shame in writing for your own pleasure if you’re sure this is your true aim. But if you say you write for yourself or itself, but secretly long for an audience or monetary reward, you may often find yourself at cross purposes. Women writers have long had a complicated relationship with money. Read More→