I have been reading several books in preparation for my presentation at Story Circle Network’s “Stories of the Heart” memoir conference coming up in Austin in a couple of weeks. One is If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland. This is considered by many to be one of the very best books on writing ever written. I thought I would share a few of the insights of Ms. Ueland tonight for anyone who longs for a creative endeavor. Much of this advice could be useful for just about anybody. Just replace writing with living.
Savor and enjoy:
“I learned…that inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetic striving, but it comes into us slowly and quietly and all the time, though we must regularly and every day give it a little chance to start flowing, prime it with a little solitude and idleness.”
“I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten – happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another. ”
“Everybody is original, if he tells the truth, if he speaks from himself. But it must be from his *true* self and not from the self he thinks he *should* be. ”
“No writing is a waste of time – no creative work where the feelings, the imagination, the intelligence must work. With every sentence you write, you have learned something. It has done you good.”
“Yes, I hate orthodox criticism. I don’t mean great criticism, like that of Matthew Arnold and others, but the usual small niggling, fussy-mussy criticism, which thinks it can improve people by telling them where they are wrong, and results only in putting them in straitjackets of hesitancy and self-consciousness, and weazening all vision and bravery.
…I hate it because of all the potentially shining, gentle, gifted people of all ages, that it snuffs out every year. It is a murderer of talent. And because the most modest and sensitive people are the most talented, having the most imagination and sympathy, these are the very first ones to get killed off. It is the brutal egotists that survive.”
“I found that many gifted people are so afraid of writing a poor story that they cannot summon the nerve to write a single sentence for months. The thing to say to such people is: “See how *bad* a story you can write. See how dull you can be. Go ahead. That would be fun and interesting. I will give you ten dollars if you can write something thoroughly dull from beginning to end!” And of course, no one can. ”
“Work freely and rollickingly as though you were talking to a friend who loves you. Mentally (at least three or four times a day) thumb your nose at all know-it-alls, jeerers, critics, doubters.”
Is it any wonder that Carl Sandburg described Ueland’s book as, “The best book ever written on how to write?”
I think not!