Monday, December 13, 2010

Advice for writers: Richard Rhodes

If you’re afraid you can’t write, the answer is to write. Every sentence you construct adds weight to the balance pan. If you’re afraid of what other people will think of your efforts, don’t show them until you write your way beyond your fear. If writing a book is impossible, write a chapter. If writing a chapter is impossible, write a page. If writing a page is impossible, write a paragraph. If writing a paragraph is impossible, write a sentence. If writing even a sentence is impossible, write a word and teach yourself everything there is to know about that word and then write another, connected word and see where their connection leads. A page a day is a book a year.
I love how Rhodes reduces the process to one word at a time. If you can't write a page, write a paragraph. If not a paragraph, then a sentence. And if a sentence is too much, well then write ONE word.
Kind of reminds me of the Christmas special Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Kris Kringle sings these lyrics to the Winter Warlock to help him change from nasty to nice.

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking cross the floor
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking out the door

You never will get where you’re going
If you never get up on your feet
Come on, there’s a good tail wind blowing
A fast walking man is hard to beat


  1. The practice piece of writing is sooooo important, and yet, it's something we all struggle with. We know practice makes us better at everything we do, so it makes great sense in the world of writing. Thanks, Buffy!

  2. Yes, even when we're in a writer's block, we can write a few words or a paragraph. When it seems so insurmountable to finish a manuscript and then get published, focusing on the little steps can help make it less overwhelming.