Getting it wrong is part of
getting it right.
I used to write because I wanted to become rich, and when I didn’t become rich, I wrote because I wanted to become famous, and when I didn’t become famous, I wrote because I liked to write. And that’s when I began to make a little money and gain a little notice.
Respect your reader. The niftiest turn of phrase, the most elegant flight of rhetorical fancy, isn’t worth beans next to a clear thought clearly expressed.
. . . novelists . . . have, on average, about the same IQs as the cosmetic consultants at Bloomingdales’s department store. our power is patience. We have discovered that writing allows even a stupid person to seem halfway intelligent, if only that person will write the same thought over and over again, improving it just a little bit each time. It is a lot like inflating a blimp with a bicycle pump. Anyone can do it. All it takes is time.
—Kurt Vonnegut, Palm Sunday, 128
Good writing occurs because a writer passionately desires to say something. . . .
Students do not need more abstract advice about how to write.
They need somehow to have their feelings kindled.
I once stayed in a hotel, next door to a well-known writer.
He never talked about writing.
Each night I heard his typewriter,
hour after hour,
Everyone else in the hotel was asleep.
The sound of that machine reminds me, still,
that what writers do is write.
If there is a secret about writing,
I haven’t found it yet.
All I know is to sit down,
clear your mind,
Writing is most of all an exercise in determination,
first to get the job done,
second to get the job done right.
No iron can stab the heart with such force
as a period put just at the right place.
If you would not be forgotten
As soon as you are dead and rotten,
Either write things worth reading,
Or do things worth the writing.