Monday, September 22, 2014

Francesca Marciano's Ten Writing Mantras

In the 22nd in a series of posts on 2014 books entered for The Story Prize, Francesca Marciano, author of The Other Language (Pantheon), offers writing advice. 

You’ve heard it a hundred times already, but a mantra is a mantra because it needs to be repeated, so here we go.

1. Get to work early in the day when the world is quiet and your mind is fresh.

2. Walk a lot. Ideas will pop to the surface like gnocchi in boiling water.

3. Hatch your story, like a hen hatches an egg. Get to the desk only when you know where you are heading.

4. Read a LOT of good books. Don’t be afraid of being influenced, or intimidated by other people’s talent.

5. Stuck? Walk some more. Eventually the gnocchi will pop up with the right solution.

6. Trust yourself. Don’t let other people read your work too soon.

7. Think of the work as building a bridge. A brick a day, and you’ll eventually get across.

8. Don’t panic: your first draft will be terrible. Everyone’s first draft is embarrassing.

9. When you show the work to people you trust, be prepared to listen to criticism and comments you may not agree with. You need to be strong and humble at the same time.

10. Rewrite, de-clutter, polish, like an obsessive housewife, till the page shines.