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.
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