Umberto Eco: Be a corporal first…

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 a blog post with advice from Umberto Eco…

Umberto Eco, who died earlier this year at the age of 84, was a contemporary Italian novelist, literary critic and philosopher. He is best known for his 1980 novel The Name of the Rose, which I have not yet read but which has been sitting on my bookshelf for at least a decade, maybe longer. (I might even try it again this weekend.)

I was thinking of Eco today when I read an interesting Brain Pickings blog post offering advice to aspiring writers. Headlined: “Patti Smith, Umberto Eco, and Other Celebrated Contemporary Authors Offer Their Advice to Aspiring Writers,” the post offered a wealth of wise advice but Eco’s was my favourite. Here is what he said:

You cannot become a General if you [have not] been before a corporal, a sergeant, a lieutenant… So, go step by step.

So many brand new writers aspire to the idea of producing an immediate bestseller, never understanding that writing is a game requiring years of practice, patience and apprenticeship.

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