Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Writer's Ability of Extended Concentration

Reportedly, Joyce Carol Oates opined

First requirement of the writer is the ability to concentrate for long periods of time. Second, more urgent requirement, the wish to do so.

However, it appears that Oates may have put the cart [i.e., the ability to concentrate] before the horse [i.e., the wish to do so]. Does Patricia Highsmith and Malcolm Gladwell have better writing advice?

Patricia Highsmith, the author of The Talented Mr. Ripley, related that self-amusement is needed to concentrate for long enough to write a book:

The first person you should think of pleasing, in writing a book, is yourself. If you can amuse yourself for the length of time it takes to write a book, the publishers and the readers can and will come later [إِنْ شَاءَ ٱللَّٰهُ].

And Malcolm Gladwell advised that a writer has to possess a desire to tell a story:

You need to have a desire to tell the story. You need to be personally invested in some way. 

Thus, it appears that if a writer is self-amused and\or is invested in his or her writing, then he or she will (organically) have the ability to concentrate consistently and for long enough to write a book(s).

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Write to Entertain or to Inspire?

It's not uncommon to hear writers (e.g., Nabokov) say that they don't aspire to inspire the minds and lives of their readers. In other words, they solely write to entertain. 

However, per Allegra Goodman - the winner of the Whiting Award for Fiction (1991):

A true writer opens people's ears and eyes, not merely playing to the public, but changing minds and lives. This is sacred work.

Maybe the solution is to write to inspire by entertaining the readers. 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Write About What Fascinates and Electrifies

Per AdvicetoWriters, Warm Bodies author Isaac Marion advised:

Please don't write to appease others. Not the market, not a demographic, and not your family. Write the story that fascinates you in the way that electrifies you, and ignore everything else.

And I would add that writing about topics that "fascinates" and "electrifies" the writer will make writing, not easy, but a lot easier. 

And this advise extends beyond writing. For example, if you workout, not because you want to live a long and healthy life, but you hit the gym three times per week to be attractive to the opposite sex, you may come off as needy, which is not attractive.