“Things I have the strongest resistance to teach me the most, in writing as in life.”
“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.”
The award-winning author of “Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape,” shares the most important thing she has learned about writing.
Author James Atlas shares the most important thing he has ever learned about 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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“No beautiful writing comes from an impossibly perfect world; it all comes from this one: cluttered, obligated, distracted.”
“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.”
“[Writing] takes a long time. There is no rushing it and the work exists on its own timetable, outside of your own personal deadlines.”
“Honoring the separation between the private activity of writing and the public activity of being a writer has helped me structure my days.”
“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.”
Natalie Bober is an award-winning and critically acclaimed biographer and historian.
“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, a recipient of the 2016 Center for Fiction Emerging Writers Fellowship, is a journalist, editor, and fiction writer.
“The process of rewriting is so important, it’s like breathing to a writer. It’s everything.”
“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.”
“Empathy is the true engine of writing; without it, conflict is empty.”
“I find that I do my best writing when I tune everything else out.”
“If you keep writing down and shaping thoughts, eventually there’ll be a book. It’s not magic, it’s labor.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
Want to make writing a career? Treat it like one.
Julia Fierro is the author of the novels Cutting Teeth (2014) and the forthcoming The Gypsy Moth Summer (2017).
TV veteran Bo Kaprall has been writing, directing and producing for the small screen for more than three decades.
“A writer once told me there is only one way to create: as if your life depends on it, which it does.”
“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.”
“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.”
“When I’m on a project, it’s good to be immersed in it, to return to it, daily.”
Enjoying awards and recognition, Colum McCann expands his use of multiple points of view.
The distinguished Canadian writer has pushed herself to work in a variety of genres, dramatizing issues of gender, power and society.
“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.”
“You need to really get inside the head of someone who is not you and give them a voice and dignity.”
“Fiction’s not a place for hiding. Your skin is in the game, from the moment you begin.”
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!
“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.”
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.
“If you present the emotional truth of a situation, particularly in an essay or a poem, it transcends genre.”
“Writing, at its best and truest, can offer solace and salvation for both readers and writers.”
“There is no competition for vulnerability. We are all in that together.”
“If I just show up, and I work and work, there is a moment, a magical moment, at some point, when it gives.”
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.
“Reading other people’s work helps me as a writer by reminding me that there’s always someone better out there.”
“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.”
“I have learned that my best ideas come when I am patient.”
The poet learned to “get out of earth’s orbit” to find freedom and a sense of wonder in her writing.
Find the power to overcome writing fears.
Colum McCann shares expertise on the necessity of plot, intensity of language and the grand paradox of success.
“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.”
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.