The collected wisdom of great writers

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a remarkable collection of references assembled by Maria Popova….

I have a particular interest in writers who feel doubt. It doesn’t disturb me that it’s an unpleasant feeling, which it is. It bothers me when it stops people from writing, which it frequently does.

“Bad writers tend to have the self-confidence, while the good ones tend to have self-doubt,” Charles Bukowski (pictured above) said in an interview, quoted by Maria Popova in her excellent essay on writing and self-doubt.

I mention Maria Popova again — the second time in a week (here is the first) — because I just learned of her helpful and astonishing list of famous advice on writing, which she titles The Collected Wisdom of Great Writers. In it she presents the advice of 100 well-known writers — including Susan Sontag and Stephen KingErnest Hemingway and Eudora Welty. Here are pithy comments from each of them.

SontagThere is a great deal that either has to be given up or be taken away from you if you are going to succeed in writing a body of work.

King: In both writing and sleeping, we learn to be physically still at the same time we are encouraging our minds to unlock from the humdrum rational thinking of our daytime lives.

Hemingway: As a writer you should not judge. You should understand.

WeltyNo art ever came out of not risking your neck.

Bookmark this link right now! You’ll want to consult it again and again. Particularly when you’re feeling doubt.


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