9, no 10 Words of Wisdom To the Creative Class

All 9 of these ideas are from Stephen King. No, he didn’t personally email me, but I found these quotes (from “On Writing”) to be incredibly insightful in terms of what each of us does day to day. Feel free to adapt towards your specific medium of creation.

1. Stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel crap from a sitting position.

2. If there’s no joy in it, it’s just no good. It’s best to go on to some other area, where the deposits of talent may be richer and the fun quotient higher. Talent renders the whole idea of rehearsal meaningless; when you find something at which you are talented, you do it (whatever it is) until your fingers bleed or your eyes are ready to fall out of your head. Even when no one is listening (or reading, or watching), every outing is a bravura performance, because you as the creator are happy.

3. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over.

4. If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. (I would insert, “Listen a lot and play a lot”)

5. When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.

6. If I write rapidly, putting down my story exactly as it comes into my mind, only looking back to check the names of my characters and the relevant parts of their back stories, I find that I can keep up with my original enthusiasm and at the same time outrun the self-doubt that’s always waiting to settle in.

7. I don’t see themes until the story’s done. Once it is, I’m able to kick back, read over what I’ve written, and look for underlying patterns. If I see some (and I almost always do), I can work at bringing them out in a second, more fully realized, draft of the story. Two examples of the sort of work second drafts were made for are symbolism and theme.

8. You’ll find reading your book over after a six-week layoff to be a strange, often exhilarating experience. It’s yours, you’ll recognize it as yours, even be able to remember what tune was on the stereo when you wrote certain lines, and yet it will also be like reading the work of someone else, a soul-twin, perhaps. This is the way it should be, the reason you waited. It’s always easier to kill someone else’s darlings than it is to kill your own.

9. Like your bedroom, your writing room should be private, a place where you go to dream.

Steven (and Stephen)

PS: One last one from the book Ignore Everybody (by Hugh MacLeod) that I think is wise:
10. Keep your day job. The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs: One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the task at hand covers both bases, but not often.

It’s balancing the need to make a good living while still maintaining one’s creative sovereignty.

The young writer who has to wait tables to pay the bills, in spite of her writing appearing in all the cool and hip magazines… who dreams of one day not having her life divided so harshly. Well, over time the “harshly” bit might go away, but not the “divided.” This tense duality will always play center stage. It will never be transcended. And nobody is immune. Not the struggling waiter, nor the movie star. As soon as you accept this, I mean really accept this, for some reason your career starts moving ahead faster.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Zahara
    Oct 05, 2010 @ 01:29:51

    great advice, thanks for sharing it.

    Reply

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