@amit's notes

On Writing




Put another way, I didn’t want to write a book, even a short one like this, that would leave me feeling like either a literary gas-bag or a transcendental asshole. There are enough of those books – and those writers – on the market already, thanks. (Location 58)

I figured the shorter the book, the less the bullshit. (Location 66)

There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up. (Location 328)

When you’re still too young to shave, optimism is a perfectly legitimate response to failure. (Location 370)

If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that’s all. (Location 491)

I wasn’t alone in my belief that good writing can be simultaneously intoxicating and idea-driven. If stone-sober people can fuck like they’re out of their minds – can actually be out of their minds while caught in that throe – why shouldn’t writers be able to go bonkers and still stay sane? (Location 674)

Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t have to make speeches. Just believing is usually enough. (Location 794)

It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around. (Location 1146)

I want to suggest that to write to your best abilities, it behooves you to construct your own toolbox and then build up enough muscle so you can carry it with you. Then, instead of looking at a hard job and getting discouraged, you will perhaps seize the correct tool and get immediately to work. (Location 1243)

This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed. (Location 1283)

Remember that the basic rule of vocabulary is use the first word that comes to your mind, if it is appropriate and colorful. If you hesitate and cogitate, you will come up with another word – of course you will, there’s always another word – but it probably won’t be as good as your first one, or as close to what you really mean. (Location 1289)

Grammar is not just a pain in the ass; it’s the pole you grab to get your thoughts up on their feet and walking. (Location 1339)

the reader must always be your main concern; without Constant Reader, you are just a voice quacking in the void. (Location 1371)

to write adverbs is human, to write he said or she said is divine. (Location 1437)

I like to get ten pages a day, which amounts to 2,000 words. That’s 180,000 words over a three-month span, a goodish length for a book – something in which the reader can get happily lost, if the tale is done well and stays fresh. (Location 1716)

Story is honorable and trustworthy; plot is shifty, and best kept under house arrest. (Location 1932)

practice is invaluable (and should feel good, really not like practice at all) and that honesty is indispensable. (Location 2271)

When you send your story out, there ought to be a very brief cover-letter on top of the script, telling the editor where you’ve published other stories and just a line or two on what this one’s about. And you should close by thanking him for the reading. That’s especially important. (Location 2926)

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On Writing