For aspiring writers, any tips?
The only way to get better is to keep writing. Some folks stare at a blank page for hours with complete performance anxiety. Others, like Hemingway, will write a sentence, and then have to spend a week rewriting it because it’s never good enough. And so are led to drink to excess. They turn writing into a form of torture owing to some deep-seated insecurities. As writers we all have these nagging self-doubts, but you have to put them aside. You have to write with heart and tremendous courage, knowing that no matter how good the book is and how good your writing is, it will never be good enough. But perfection is hardly the point; perfection is not art. What is the point is to take the very spiritual journey of self-transformation that will make you not only a better writer but a better person at the end of the novel. And you can only get there one step at a time, one word, one sentence at a time. Wishing greatness on yourself will not do it. But you can write your way to greatness, providing you can embrace the spiritual path of inner transformation.
Just like our characters have to grow with the challenges they face in the story, so we as writers must grow with the challenges we give ourselves with those cliffhangers at the end of each chapter, by doing the impossible again and again. After all, how does one survive falling off a cliff exactly? Nothing could be more spiritual in nature, as no amount of human ability is up to the task. You must access the superhuman in yourself day in and day out. But strangely, that is less about ability, and more about humility and surrender to that higher power that moves your hands across that keyboard.
And don’t buy into the illusion that your first book must be a masterpiece. Few people can even agree on what that is. It just has to be good and the next one has to be better. That’s natural. It is true that some artists do their best work the first time out of the starting gate. With Orson Welles it was Citizen Kane. I would say, aspire not to be that guy, but the individual who gets better with each book. That way you have a life and a journey to look forward to that is less filled with regret, remorse, and tales of that big fish you landed once.
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