Don Share: Writers on Writing

“Things I have the strongest resistance to teach me the most, in writing as in life.”

Ayobami Adebayo: Writers on Writing

“Knowing that I will rewrite everything anyway, I allow myself to go off on several tangents when I’m working on the first draft of a story or a novel.”

Lauret Savoy
Lauret Savoy (Photo by John Martins)

Lauret Savoy: Writers on Writing

The award-winning author of “Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape,” shares the most important thing she has learned about writing.

James Atlas: Writers on Writing

Author James Atlas shares the most important thing he has ever learned about writing.

J. Ryan Stradal: Writers on Writing

Award-winning and best-selling author J. Ryan Stradal shares the most important thing he has learned about writing and how it helps him in this short interview.

William Finnegan: Writers on Writing

“If you can make that imaginative leap, which is much more difficult than it sounds, you can land in the zone where things are really getting across.”

Meg Howrey: Writers on Writing

“I want to write a little bit more like a monster. It requires some practice in finding the right beasts to deploy. It takes a village of Godzillas.”

Téa Obreht: Writers on Writing

“It took me a long time, and many false starts, to find my way to a project where I felt that same synthesis of subject and psychological state again.”

Benjamin Kunkel: Writers on Writing

“You’re not as good as you suspect you are when you’re happiest with yourself, and you’re not as bad as you fear you are when you’re most disgusted with your prose.”

Leslie Jamison: Writers on Writing

“No beautiful writing comes from an impossibly perfect world; it all comes from this one: cluttered, obligated, distracted.”

Clara Bingham: Writers on Writing

“You’re climbing Everest by looking down at your feet, not looking up at the mountain. The second I look up, I wouldn’t be able to breathe, and it would all be too daunting.”

Kaitlyn Greenidge: Writers on Writing

“[Writing] takes a long time. There is no rushing it and the work exists on its own timetable, outside of your own personal deadlines.”

Alexandra Kleeman: Writers on Writing

“Honoring the separation between the private activity of writing and the public activity of being a writer has helped me structure my days.”

Jeannie Vanasco: Writers on Writing

“After I find a good routine – which, for me, usually involves absolute quiet, at least two hours of uninterrupted time, and a pot of black coffee – the writing starts going well, and then I can forget about the routine.”

David Shields: Writers on Writing

“As I work on a project, typically a book-length essay, I try to ask myself, what puts the reader at the most extreme point of discomfiture?”

Dan Sheehan: Writers on Writing

Dan Sheehan, a recipient of the 2016 Center for Fiction Emerging Writers Fellowship, is a journalist, editor, and fiction writer.

Danny Strong: Writers on Writing

“The process of rewriting is so important, it’s like breathing to a writer. It’s everything.”

Norman Barasch: Writers on Writing

“The most important thing about writing is to make sure – once you’ve started a project – don’t stop in the middle if you can help it.”

Olivia Laing: Writers on Writing

“If you keep writing down and shaping thoughts, eventually there’ll be a book. It’s not magic, it’s labor.”

Akhil Sharma: Writers on Writing

“Show your work to people, so they can say to you, it’s not working, and somehow just being told that is soothing, instead of your own doubts and your own shame.”

Rion Amilcar Scott: Writers on Writing

“Reading poetry every day makes your language more fluid. It makes you more attuned to the weight of words and more conversant with image and metaphor.”

Emma Brockes: Writers on Writing

“Good writing is what happens when you stop thinking about the writing itself and think more straightforwardly about what it is you’re trying to say.”

Guard the hours

Want to make writing a career? Treat it like one.

Julia Fierro: Writers on Writing

Julia Fierro is the author of the novels Cutting Teeth (2014) and the forthcoming The Gypsy Moth Summer (2017).

Writers on Writing: SNL’s Bo Kaprall

TV veteran Bo Kaprall has been writing, directing and producing for the small screen for more than three decades.

Dana Spiotta: Writers on Writing

“A writer once told me there is only one way to create: as if your life depends on it, which it does.”

Sharon Dennis Wyeth: Writers on Writing

“Breaking the ground is a very important phase. It’s a difficult phase, but once you take the time to do that, the book somehow propels you forward.”

Flynn Meaney: Writers on Writing

“If you can come up with some elaborate descriptive phrase or musical combination of words no one else could possibly come up with, congratulations. But that doesn’t mean you should use it.”

Nick Flynn: Writers on Writing

“When I’m on a project, it’s good to be immersed in it, to return to it, daily.”

Colum McCann: Great instincts

Enjoying awards and recognition, Colum McCann expands his use of multiple points of view.

Kicking down fences with Margaret Atwood

The distinguished Canadian writer has pushed herself to work in a variety of genres, dramatizing issues of gender, power and society.

Tracy K Smith: Writers on writing

“Every discovery that I make as a writer, and the work it allows me to do, is true only for as long as it is true.”

Donald Margulies: Writers on Writing

“You need to really get inside the head of someone who is not you and give them a voice and dignity.”

Katie Kitamura: Writers on Writing

“Fiction’s not a place for hiding. Your skin is in the game, from the moment you begin.”

Sharon Olds: Writers on Writing

It’s good for me to notice the tiniest sub-“thought” which goes through my mind, almost too fast to notice—to catch it before it’s gone, to jot it down. Whhhsshht!

Tom Sleigh: Writers on writing

“I tried to arrange my life so that I could have the time in the morning to sit down and work. As soon as you make a decision like that, you give a shape to your life.”

Peter Godwin: Writers on Writing

You have to be prepared to embrace a life of solitude. Not all the time. But when you’re writing, that’s what is required.

Hilton Als: Writers on writing

“If you present the emotional truth of a situation, particularly in an essay or a poem, it transcends genre.”

Roxane Gay on writing

“Writing, at its best and truest, can offer solace and salvation for both readers and writers.”

Isabel Allende: Writers on writing

“If I just show up, and I work and work, there is a moment, a magical moment, at some point, when it gives.”

Phil Klay: Writers on Writing

Klay presents a rich, literary view of the realities and sometimes the absurdities of contemporary warfare on the battlefields, in the barracks and in service members’ hometowns.

Sherman Alexie: Writers on Writing

“Reading other people’s work helps me as a writer by reminding me that there’s always someone better out there.”

Rick Moody: Writers on Writing

“If you are in the furnace of pure language, it seems to me now, you are in the place where new stories and new ideas about what storytelling is are located.”

Catherine Barnett: Writers on Writing

The poet learned to “get out of earth’s orbit” to find freedom and a sense of wonder in her writing.

Colum McCann: The words that matter

Colum McCann shares expertise on the necessity of plot, intensity of language and the grand paradox of success.

A.M. Homes: Writers on Writing

“The most important thing I’ve learned is to stay curious, to stay open to what the characters bring to the story – don’t be overly determined to control the story but rather let it evolve organically.”

Great instincts: Interview with Colum McCann

Enjoying awards and a new level of recognition for let the great world spin, novelist Column McCann expands his use of multiple points of view.