Writing advice from George Saunders….

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

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 an interview with George Saunders….

George Saunders (pictured above), is the bestselling author of short stories, essays, novellas, children’s books, and novels. His book Tenth of December: Stories won the 2013 Story Prize  and the inaugural (2014) Folio Prize. His novel Lincoln in the Bardo  won the 2017 Man Booker.

I enjoyed reading a recent interview with him in Literary Hub — a website for writers, publishers, books, bookstores, librarians, and readers. I particularly enjoyed what he said about writer’s block:

“…[it] is always a function of the writer having set a too-high bar for herself. You know: you type a line, it fails to meet the “masterpiece standard,” you delete it in shame, type another line, delete it—soon the hours have flown by and you are a failure sitting in front of a blank screen.

“The antidote, for me, has been getting comfortable with my own revision process—seeing those bad first lines as just a starting place. If you know the path you’ll take from bad to better to good, you don’t get so dismayed by the initial mess. So: writing is of you, but it’s not YOU.”

As I say frequently to my clients, “the first draft you write (which I like to call the crappy first draft) is meant to be terrible. Then, with diligent editing, you turn it into something better.”

The hard part of writing should not be the writing. It should be the editing.

My thanks to reader Mike Hitt for fowarding the Literary Hub link to me.

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on Nov. 26/18.

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