Writing Advice from Classic Authors

How Important Is Solitude for Writers?

Virginia Woolf famously wrote, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Leaving aside the question of what a woman writes—fiction or nonfiction, prose or poetry, journalism or pithy blog posts, just how important is solitude for writers; how critical is it to have a room of one’s own?

In learning about the writing lives of classic women authors, the universality of the issues and struggles all writers experience is striking. Finding quiet time to write and a modicum of privacy was as great a challenge for a nineteenth-century woman, especially those with children, as it is for today’s writing women. Read More→

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10 Inspiring Thoughts on Writing from Eudora Welty

Eudora Welty (1909 – 2001), known for her perceptive sense of place as a Southern American writer, also wrote much about the writing life. Here are some observations by Eudora Welty on writing, sure to inspire no matter where writers are on their journeys.

Use all the abundance you possess

“We do need to bring to our writing, over and over again, all the abundance we possess. To be able, to be ready, to enter into the minds and hearts of our own people, all of them, to comprehend them (us) and then to make characters and plots in stories that in honesty and with honesty reveal them (ourselves) to us, in whatever situation we live through in our own times: this is the continuing job, and it’s no harder now than it ever was, I suppose. Every writer, like everybody else, thinks he’s living through the crisis of the ages. To write honestly and with all our powers is the least we can do, and the most.” (On Writing, 2002)

Surprise yourself

“If you haven’t surprised yourself, you haven’t written.” Read More→

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The Four Difficulties of Becoming a Writer

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.

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5 Pieces of Writing Wisdom from Willa Cather

Willa Cather (1873-1947) was a craftswoman of the written word. Known for their stark beauty and spare language, her novels reflected her philosophy that writing is a craft to be honed and perfected. Cather’s considerable wisdom has been fully preserved.

She always had a great deal of wisdom to impart on the art of writing. Here’s a sampling, excerpted from several of the numerous interviews she granted (despite her professed disdain for the press and with fame in general) between 1915 and the mid-1920s. Read More→

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Virginia Woolf wants you to write “For the good of the world”

The following passage from A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf reminds us that each woman who writes is both an inheritor and an originator. In it, she asks women who write to produce all kinds of books — and why stop at books? Let’s include all sorts of written output, fiction and nonfiction; articles, essays, blog posts, verse, and many etceteras for our own good and that of the world at large. Let’s pay homage to her and other women writers who have paved the way by doing just that — elevating the voices of women in literature and in discourse in general.

“I would ask you to write all kinds of books, hesitating at no subject however trivial or how vast. By hook or by crook, I hope you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream. Read More→

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