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7 Writing Tips From Real Writers May 21, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Word Play, Writing & Writers.
60 comments

200px-RealMotherGooseFor those of you who yearn for fame, fortune, and publication, here are 7 sure fire writing tips from real writers:

1.  Walk.  A lot.  Charles Dickens walked 20-30 miles a day.  And we know that he wrote some good stuff that has withstood the test of time.  My guess: he did his best writing after a long nap.  Same with Carl Sandburg who also walked 20 miles a day.

2.  Never leave the house.  Emily Dickinson wrote 1,800 poems holed up in her hidey hole, a white room, while wearing only white.  She commissioned her sister to address her correspondence.

Of course, only seven of her poems were published during her lifetime.  So this tip might work best for those who seek posthumous publication.

3.  Follow writing rituals.  Edgar Allen Poe wrote with a cat on his shoulder and wore all black, quoth the Raven, “nevermore.”   Charles Dickens touched certain objects three times for good luck and placed objects on his desk with exacting precision.  T.S. Eliot preferred writing with a head cold.  E.B. White did not ~ he wore a surgical mask in public to protect himself against contagious diseases.

448px-Alice_05a-1116x14924.  Choose the right writing posture.  Ernest Hemingway and Lewis Carroll wrote standing up.  Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson wrote lying down.  Benjamin Franklin wrote naked in the bath.

5.  Don’t avoid stimulants.  Mark Twain smoked 40 cigars a day.  W.H Auden and Dr. Johnson preferred tea. Johnson consumed 25 cups in a single sitting.  Honoré de Balzac preferred coffee ~ 50 cups a day. Samuel Taylor Coleridge used opium to invoke his muse.

It’s anyone’s guess what Lewis Carroll was on.

6.  Do it on a dare.  Agatha Christie began writing detective mysteries at age thirty after her sister told her that she could not handle the rules governing that genre.  Christie wrote 30 Poirot mysteries to prove a point.

7.  Write.  A lot.  Upton Sinclair wrote 8,000 words every day, including Sunday.  In the 18 months he spent as a full-time grad student at Columbia, he wrote 1,275,000 words.  Some of them quite good.  Anthony Trollope wrote 47 novels in 27 years before dying of a stroke while laughing out loud at a novel.  Jack London wrote 20 hours a day on 4 hours of sleep.  To make sure he didn’t oversleep, he rigged his alarm to drop a weight on his head.  That’s dedication!

Bonus tip:  Don’t read a lot of books with tips from other writers.  They are not you and you are not them.  Just write.  Let the way teach you the way.

Aah . . . that’s better!

“Some people don’t really bother much with remembering; it seems such a useless activity.  But most writers are addicted to it.” ~ Alice Munro

More fun facts:  A Writer’s Book of Days ~ A Spirited Companion & Lively Muse for the Writing Life, Judy Reeves