Becoming a Writer :-)

I am working the night shift at the drug rehab tonight and i have decided to actually attempt reading a book. Its almost 5 am and i am pretty excited about how far i got.. here are the notes so far!

“…every author is a very fortunate sort of dual personality, and it is this very fact that makes him such a bewildering, tantalizing, irritating figure to the plain man of affairs who flatters himself that he, at least, is all of a piece. But there is no scandal and no danger in recognizing that you have more than one side to your character. The journals and letters of men of genius are full of admissions of their sense of being dual or multiple in their nature”

“…He gets as stagestruck at the thought of his unseen readers as any sapling actor. He discovers that when he is able to plan a story step by step, the fluency he needs to write it has flown out the window; or that when he lets himself go on a loose rein, suddenly the story is out of hand. He fears that he has a tendency to make his stories all alike, or paralyzes himself with the notion that he will never, when this story is finished, find another that he likes as well. He will begin to follow cu-rent reputations and harry himself because he has not this writer’s humor or that one’s ingenuity. He will find a hundred reasons to doubt himself and not one for self-confidence. He will suspect that those who encouraged him are too lenient, or too far from the market to know the standards of successful fiction. Or he will read the work of a real genius in words, and the discrep-ancy between that gift and his own will seem a chasm to swallow his hopes. In such a state, lightened now and again by moments when he feels his own gift alive and surging, he may stay for months or years.”

“Each writer’s unconscious will be found to have, if I may put it so, a type-story of its own: be-cause of the individual’s history, he will tend to see certain dilemmas as dramatic and overlook others entirely, as he will also have his own idea of the greatest possible happiness and personal good. Of course, it follows that each writer’s stories will always bear a fundamental likeness to each other. This need not be seen as a threat of monotony, but the conscious mind must be enough aware of it to alter, recombine, introduce elements of surprise and freshness into each new story project.”

“One excellent psychological reason for an author to keep his profession to himself is that if you confess so much you are likely to go further and talk of the things you mean to write. Now words are your medium, and effective use of them your profession; but your unconscious self will not care whether the words you use are written down or talked to the world at large. You will have created your story and reaped your reward in approval or shocked disapproval; in either case you will have hit your mark. Afterward you will find yourself disinclined to go on with the laborious process of writing that story at full length; unconsciously you will consider it as already done, a twice-told tale. When you have completed a fair first draft you can, if you like, offer it for criticism and advice; but to talk too early is a grave mistake.”

The First Exercise

A) You are near a door. When you come to the end of this chapter put the book aside, get up, and go through that door. From the moment you stand on the threshold turn yourself into your own object of attention. What do you look like, standing there? How do you walk? What, if you knew nothing about yourself, could be gathered of you, your character, your background, your purpose just there at just that minute? If there are people in the room whom you must greet, how do you greet them? How do your attitudes to them vary? Do you give any overt sign that you are fonder of one, or more aware of one, than of the rest?

B) Another time try sitting at ease and—using no gestures at all—tell yourself step by step how you comb your hair. (You will find it harder than you think.) Again, follow yourself at any small routine task. 

C) A little later take an episode of the day before; see yourself going up to it and coming away from it; and the episode itself as it might have looked to a stranger.

D) At still an-other time think how you might have looked if you could follow yourself all day long from a little height. Use the fiction maker’s eye on yourself to see how you would have appeared when you went in and out of houses, up streets and into stores, and back home at the end of the day.



“Most persons who are attracted by the idea of fiction at all are, or were in childhood, great dreamers. At almost any moment they can catch themselves, at some level, deep in reverie. Occa-sionally this reverie takes the form of recasting one’s life, day by day or moment by moment, into a form somewhat nearer to the heart’s desire: re-constructing conversations and arguments so that we come out with colors flying and epigrams falling around us like sparks, or imagining our-selves back in a simpler and happier period. Or adventure is coming toward us around the next corner, and we have already made up our minds as to the form it will take. All those naive and satisfying dreams of which we are the unashamed heroes or heroines are the very stuff of fiction…”  —————>                “So, learning discretion and guile, we cast the matter a little differently; we objectify the ideal self that has caused us so much plea-sure and write about him in the third person. And hundreds of our fellows, engaged secretly in just such daydreaming as our own, see themselves in our fictional characters and fall to reading when fatigue or disenchantment robs them of their ability to see themselves under any glamorous”

“… rise half an hour, or a full hour, earlier than you customarily rise. Just as soon as you can—and without talking, without reading the morning’s paper, without picking up the book you laid aside the night before—begin to write. Write anything that comes into your head: last night’s dream, if you are able to remember it; the activities of the day before; a conversation, real or imaginary; an examination of conscience. Write any sort of early morning reverie, rapidly and un-critically. The excellence or ultimate worth of what you write is of no importance yet.”

” After a day or two you will find that there is a certain number of words that you can write easily and without strain. When you have found that limit, begin to push it ahead by a few sentences, then by a paragraph or two. A little later try to double it before you stop the morning’s work. Keep the material you have written—under lock and key if that is the only way to save yourself from self-consciousness. It will have uses you can hardly foresee.”

“Throughout your writing life, whenever you are in danger of the spiritual drought that comes to the most facile writer from time to time, put the pencil and paper back on your bedside table, and wake to write in the morning.”



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