Love what you write – #takeawaykeys

How do you get your ideas?
By thinking and thinking and thinking…
till I’m ready to kill myself. Isaac Asimov


5 writing advices from “It’s Been a Good Life”, Isaac Asimov and “The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers”, John Gardener (currently reading). 

1. The difference between Ordinary and Prolific Writer (by Asimov)

The ordinary writer is filled with insecurities and obsesses over the right word, sentence, structure. Is the sentence he has just created a sensible one? Is it well expressed as well as it might be? Would it sound BETTER if it were written differently?

The ordinary writer – always revising, chopping, changing… and never being entirely satisfied.

The prolific writer is filled with love only. Love to his writing. He can’t sit around doubting the quality of his writing – he has to LOVE his own writing no matter what.

Note: Isaac Asimov wrote almost 500 books in his lifetime (we do not count short stories and the columns in the newspaper or answers to his readers). You can do it too!
How? You have to write a full-length novel every two weeks for 25 years. 

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood.
I’d type a little faster… Isaac Asimov


2. Writer’s block (by Asimov)

Don’t fight it, instead, try to shift between different writings and tasks. Don’t stare at blank sheets of paper, don’t spend days and nights cuddling with empty ideas. Leave the novel (your work), drop it – find other projects to fill up your mind. The brain works in mysterious ways…

What lasts in the reader’s mind is not the phrase but the effect the phrase created: laughter, tears, pain, joy. If the phrase is not affecting the reader, what’s it doing there? Make it do its job or cut it without mercy or remorse. Isaac Asimov


3. To the greatest artist, anything is possible. (by John Gardener)

a) No one can hope to write really well if he has not learned to ANALYZE fiction.
b) The primary subject of fiction (any) is and has always been HUMAN EMOTIONS, VALUES and BELIEFS.

As a rule of thumb I say,
if Socrates, Jesus and Tolstoy wouldn’t do it – don’t.
John Gardner


4. Perfection (by Asimov)

Don’t try to create ‘The Last Supper’ or ‘Mona Lisa’ on round one. Best to try and create a test product (a rough draft) than never be able to post or publish anything.

Best cure for perfectionism – to write MORE. By the time a particular book is published, the writer has not much time to worry about HOW it will sell or received by audience. The author is working on his next project… or best – several others – and it is these that concern him. If you have a new book coming out every few months – you don’t have time to dwell on failure.

Write MORE – write BETTER!

People will tell you that writing is too difficult, that it’s impossible to get your work published, that you might as well hang yourself. Meanwhile, they’ll keep writing and you’ll have hanged yourself. John Gardner


5. Art has no universal rules because each true artist melts down and reforges all past aesthetic law. (by John Gardener)

There are no rules for real fiction, no limits and no restrictions (just as there are no rules for serious visual art or musical composition). Whatever works is good. There are TECHNIQUES or tricks… hundreds of them. The good writer, just like carpenter, can study and learn them.

The true writer is one for whom technique has become, as it is for the pianist, second nature.

Nothing can be more limiting to the imagination
than only writing about what you know. John Gardner

Next post – Interview with Sabina Gabrielli Carrara



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69 Responses

  1. masercot says:

    You’re right. Writing isn’t about being famous or selling… you write because you are a writer. I just got something published and it was a brief blip on my radar because I’m working on something else… and after that, something else…

    • Victoria Ray NB says:

      Yes it’s absolutely thrilling – to have own writing out there… if u give me a link later on – I’ll review it 🙂 🤸‍♂️🤸‍♂️

    • Victoria Ray NB says:

      Damn… just pressed send* too early :)) I wanted to say: perfect if you are working on some new ideas/stories all the time, I think – it brings most satisfaction…the process 🦸‍♀️🤸‍♂️🍰😎

  2. Fiery says:

    I don’t think I’m any of these types. ..I don’t even call myself a writer so what am I talking about! lol

    great post. so interesting to read.

  3. Sorryless says:

    Excellent points . . all of them.

    As a writer, everything becomes the epicenter for the next idea. From bourbon to a liaison to a stranger humming a song that you were just listening to on Spotify. . .

    • Victoria Ray NB says:

      Yes, David Baldacci said in his MasterClass that everything we see or experience- might be a part of the book or a new idea for the book 🙂

      Thx, hope it was inspiring 🖐✌️

  4. alexraphael says:

    Great quotes and great insight

  5. Jumped through all the hoops and come back to what works best – simply writing what pops into my head – sod the rest!

  6. Great advice, Vic, thanks for the motivation today!

  7. Enjoyed the quotes, VR. I don’t think I’m going to make the 500 book goal.

  8. Mireya says:

    I get my ideas by my curiosity. I’ve always felt the need to ask why

  9. 500? Give me a break.

    I obsess all the time over the right word, sentence, structure, I go back until I’m satisfied. I have to be happy about the outcome. I don’t consider myself an ordinary writer, nor a prolific one for that matter. I’m somewhere in between. It’s important we question our decisions all the time. It’s not the quantity that counts.

    • Victoria Ray NB says:

      Yes 🙂 but I think he just “could”. I mean, Asimov… I read a lot about his life (all interviews too) – he typed very quickly (the speed is truly horrific) and his writing (style) is very simple – in general, conversations and simple descriptions. It was his life I think 🤔 and not so many people can (or could) do it. We r all different also.
      I think poetry is more “precise” art = I obsess quite a lot with it, but never with prose 🙂
      Prose should be “OK” & ok is enough 😂😂

  10. Fascinating posting Victoria 🙂 , I’m not a prolific writer my any stretch of the imagination, I guess my style could be described downloading the conversation in my mind, and after posting I’m always happy with the outcome good or bad. Great post.

    • Victoria Ray NB says:

      Well prolific isn’t everything but of course fun to know how famous writers wrote or worked on their books.
      Most important to stay happy … ✌️😎📚🤸‍♂️

  11. I like the way this John Gardner guy thinks. And Asimov, of course. Advice from greats who have stood the test of time is the only writing advice I consider and take to heart.

    • Victoria Ray NB says:

      Agreed 💯! It’s so many writing advices nowadays…and funny thing, people who publish them often mentioning their own books as examples 😂😂 but never classics. I think we should listen the greatest…

  12. George F. says:

    Okay, rather than hang myself, I’ll hang my inner editor/critic, and type faster…and I won’t worry if it’s perfect. Or if bloggers don’t like it. Now, Asimov: it was the quality of his–dare I say–visionary ideas that propelled him. Nothing to do with his sentence structure. The guy was a genius. Doesn’t matter how fast I type…All IMO. Now, where’s that rope?

    • Victoria Ray NB says:

      The last thing we should do – to think IF bloggers like it or not… I’m sure a lot of people don’t understand what I’m writing and probably think she is just a mad girl who has nothing else to do 😂😂 well, no matter what – I’m going to type a little faster* each time 🤸‍♂️🤸‍♂️💯🌪🌪🌪

      Agreed about Asimov. He was a scientist in his core and a true visionary. His texts are simple but ideas are immortal. What he did was what he was!!

      Faulkner was famous for his 🌸 flowery prose – What HE DID WAS WHAT HE WAS.

      Picasso said that once & it’s very important to remember 🙂 => IT IS NOT WHAT AN ARTIST DOES THAT COUNTS, BUT WHAT HE IS.
      If we’ll do what we are – we’ll feel happy no matter what & that’s the only that matters

  13. Simon says:

    I had no idea Asimov wrote so many books, that’s so many! I’ll get started but I fear I may fall short.

    • Victoria Ray NB says:

      1. Do not fear! Just write… 2. Yes, he’s the most prolific writer I think – 500 books in lifetime

      • Simon says:

        I’ll remember not to fear. Do you fear?

        • Victoria Ray NB says:

          No. I do not fear to post or publish my writing. Why? Because:
          1. I know it’s not for everybody. I’m writing “outside” of commercial standards.
          2. I love my writing. It makes me smile.
          3. I’m used to listening or reading bad reviews: people are often unhappy about my “style” or simply saying I have none😂.
          Of course, as you understand (& I don’t wanna lie here), I can’t stand them…or let’s say I hate them 😂 with all my heart (if I got any) – that’s why I’m writing & publishing more & quickly 🙂 and plus, I promote my work.

          They should fear me coming….

          • Simon says:

            Well if they see you coming and don’t like you they can run… you do have a heart, anyone who creates like you do must and and yeah, you’re you flavoured and sure you’re not everyone’s taste just like me lol

          • Victoria Ray NB says:

            It’s okay with – “not for everybody” 🙂 writing should be fun & pleasure. Plus, we do WHAT WE ARE

          • Simon says:

            Exactly, I echo all of that, especially we do what we are. Every act of creation is an act of rebellion

          • Victoria Ray NB says:

            True 👍👍👍💥💥

    • Victoria Ray NB says:

      Actually I just googled and Barbra Cartland wrote 772 books in the life time. She’s also in Guinness and she wrote mostly romance novels. I doubt I read it… mmmm maybe. Anyway, we’ll never catch her or Asimov haha 😂

  14. Eilene Lyon says:

    Always enjoy your inspirational posts. I do need to write more, but I don’t have even 500 ideas, let alone 500 books in me!

    • Victoria Ray NB says:

      I don’t know… in my eyes 👀 you got lots of stories under ur nose! 🙂 500 books is a bit out of our control but at least 1! Always possible to write & publish! 💪💪🤸‍♂️🤸‍♂️

  15. Principle #4 is so true. I’ve been so busy writing plays in 2019, it is very hard to look back at old things I wrote and revise them. I can’t even focus on my blog anymore–I’m so focused on these 10-minute play contests.

    However, I was inspired to polish one of my Roger Tuckerman emails (because several people at work read it.)

    • Victoria Ray NB says:

      Focus on things you enjoy the most… bcz you continue your writing journey anyway 🙂 and writing plays is really cool! 💪💪💪

  16. kinkyacres says:

    Comment from a reader, not writer. It seems as though your ideas are there, just free them from over thinking!

  17. I must try to follow these. Thank you. I do learn so much from you. Mines a pretty amateurish blog but initially even I would spend days over every word. It got to the stage I almost ditched the whole thing. But now I just set a time limit and when the time runs out it gets posted. So much better for the soul.

  18. da-AL says:

    great info & inspo! I’d love if you’d guest blog post for my site. if you’re so inclined, here’s a link to general guidelines: