Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Anne Lamott’

Author Anne Lamott is turning 61 and took the opportunity to write down “every single thing I know, as of today.”

It’s a lovely list, full of the poignant and practical advice for which she’s known. It can be moving and a little sad, as when she touches on the challenges of family and death, but she also brings out useful truths on such topics as the necessity of exercise and writing shitty first drafts, the beauty of life and persistence and the fact that any of us are even here at all.

I especially like #2:
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”

You can find the rest of her list and more on her thoughts in her Facebook post.

Read Full Post »

Writing is simple, right? Writing is considered a basic skill in our society and as such, people often look down on it as, well, a basic skill. Sadly, thinking that you can write an effective book/story/memoir/etc. because you are literate is like saying that because you can run down the block, you have what it takes to do the Boston Marathon.

As always, the devil is in the details. Sorting out those details, by understanding the process and which of the many aspects of art and craft you should work on, is key to becoming (and staying) a writer.

Much of what I read and write is speculative and genre fiction, and a few of my specific suggestions and references are colored accordingly. If speculative fiction isn’t your thing that doesn’t mean you can’t use these references. It just means that you may need to ask yourself questions like, “This is great, but how would an alien sea monkey’s need for interstellar love translate to a tailor in modern-day Calcutta?” All the better to exercise your creative faculties, I say. As you’ll see, though, most writing advice translates well across boundaries.

Here are a few pointers to get you started…

Resources I’ve Found Useful:

It will shock no one to learn that there are also a lot of writing resources on the web; often the problem is sorting through them all. Search for talks, interviews and essays by authors whose work speaks to you, see if their ideas or suggestions offer fuel for your fires. I’ve mentioned some links in previous discussions on writing and creativity already, and there are many (many, many) more. To get you started:

 

Life rewards action…. That story isn’t going to unf*ck itself.
— Chuck Wendig [asterisk mine]

There are all kinds of writers. Fiction vs. not, certainly, but also binge writers, morning writers, middle of the night writers, must have my pencils just so writers, deadline writers and cabin in the woods writers, can only write on used envelope writers, take your pick. Find what works for you.

Then write.

Read Full Post »

Some days I find it hard to focus. My mind wanders, and if I don’t turn off the internet I suddenly discover myself researching machine embroidery, the weather patterns of eastern Nepal, or the art of lactic acid fermentation. All fine topics, to be sure, but sadly Not What I Am Supposed to be Doing at the moment.

If you also have this problem at times, I recommend the following bit of wisdom from Anne Lamott:

Try looking at your mind as a wayward puppy that you are trying to paper train. You don’t drop-kick a puppy into the neighbor’s yard every time it piddles on the floor. You just keep bringing it back to the newspaper.
― Anne Lamott

That was yesterday. Today will be better.

If I could just find some more newspaper.

Read Full Post »

“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

By this definition, I spent the morning singing. Hope you did too.

Read Full Post »

I’m busy, as I am most Fridays, but I wanted to send you into the weekend with this thought:

Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.
― Anne Lamott

This weekend I think the truth will taste like cookies:)

Read Full Post »

For a friend who is facing down a challenging project, here’s a quote I like:

“E.L. Doctorow once said that ‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Who among us couldn’t use a little perspective, and some encouragement? I would add that it’s helpful to remember that whatever the undertaking, the work doesn’t have to be perfect. Heck, I can guarantee that it won’t be perfect, nothing is. That’s not the point.

To my friend, and to myself, and to anyone else confronting a difficult task, I recommend taking a breath, and just making it as good as you can.

It will be good enough.

Read Full Post »