Writing is one of the few pursuits in which there is much advice but still so little of it that’s relevant. By the time a fledgling writer gets a book deal, gets published and becomes famous enough to be interviewed, the industry has changed so much that the advice they could offer is outdated.
Every writer’s experience is unique – someone else’s Don’t might just be your Do. Recently, I reread essays from Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living, a collection edited by Manjula Martin which compiles lessons from writers, some famous and/or accomplished, others still struggling to find their footing in an industry where the ground is constantly changing under your feet.
Much of what these writers shared resonates with me, either because it has been my reality too or because I crave the advice of someone who has done what I hope to do, whether I adopt or ignore their advice. Below are 5 of my favorite quotes from the book.
- Don’t just be writers. Being only writers meant you would be stuck in the corral, communing only with other ponies, when you should be exploring the world beyond the enclosure Adam Zagajewski
- I would like to win a Pulitzer. But more importantly, I would like to write something worthy of a Pulitzer Roxane Gay
- If you want to be famous, don’t be a writer. It’s not about fame, it’s about accomplishment Cheryl Strayed
- Work is work, even when we call it art Manjula Martin
- Any kind of experience is good for a writer, except sitting at home all the time Yiyun Li
And since I’m all about sharing my doodles this week, the image below is the page from my reading journal where I recorded a few other lessons that the authors shared. Since the cover art has (some of) the authors names, I just added my takeaways from those writers, as well as added a few of my own.
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