Writing Advice from James Baldwin.
From James Interview. Worth reading in spite the length.
Forget about Talent…Sweat your heart off!
“Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but, most of all, endurance.”
Don’t give yourself an alternative.
“And once you realise that you can do something, it would be difficult to live with yourself if you didn’t do it.”
“Probably that way for everybody: something that irritates you and won’t let you go. That’s the anguish of it. Do this book, or die. You have to go through that.”
I also take this attitude with Yoga poses, especially balancing poses: I tell my body ‘ look you don’t have a choice other than standing on one foot, falling is not an option so focus and shut up’ and it works, all because the alternative of not doing the pose is not appealing to me, it won’t get me anywhere.
So I choose to sacrifice comfort for a more rewarding gift that is balance and success.
The point of writing is showing… not describing or telling.
“They are overwritten. Most of the rewrite, then, is cleaning. Don’t describe it, show it. That’s what I try to teach all young writers — take it out! Don’t describe a purple sunset, make me see that it is purple.”
Rewriting is key.
“I do a lot of rewriting. It’s very painful. You know it’s finished when you can’t do anything more to it, though it’s never exactly the way you want it.”
Stop thinking that the first draft is sacred, it’s not, screw it, play with it until you make it reach its full potential and exhaust all the ways it can be re-said.
The goal of writing is discovering corners of yourself you ignored.
“You learn how little you know. It becomes much more difficult because the hardest thing in the world is simplicity. And the most fearful thing, too. It becomes more difficult because you have to strip yourself of all your disguises, some of which you didn’t know you had. You want to write a sentence as clean as a bone. That is the goal.”
Sticking with it results in nothing but the discovery of wonders and treasures inside you.