Five Brilliant Writers, and Their Advice to You
John Steinbeck, Kurt Vonnegut, and Maya Angelou all had different approaches to writing. Here's some of their best advice.
Writing is one of the strangest arts. Nearly everyone is, at some level, capable of doing it. But very few seem capable of doing it well. Perfectly literate people find that they can put words on a page, but can’t keep a story going. This is a shame, as many people who do have a great idea for a story never really learned how to put it down.
Don’t worry, great minds are here to help. Many of the best and brightest authors there are left us with their tips on how to write.
1 - Our first is Kurt Vonnegut, an excellent writer whose work spanned many genres and mediums. He had seven simple rules to follow if you wanted to write. They are best for short stories, but can be used anywhere.
2 - Perhaps Vonnegut isn’t your guy. That’s OK, we have another option in Ricky Gervais. While his video goes further, his advice can be summed up in one classic sentence, “write what you know”. He also reminds us that it is better to “make the ordinary extraordinary, it’s so much better than starting with the extraordinary”. For Gervais, his advice is applied to joke writing and directing, but he learned these rules writing short stories for school.
3 - John Steinbeck, who won the Nobel Prize for his novels, gave us these six pieces of advice for writing. This list was once offered to a friend, and Steinbeck himself tried to follow this list.
4 - Margret Atwood has no formula, as she tells us in her Big Think interview. For her the really difficult part of writing is deciding what to write. A problem many people, in her experience, fail to solve first. In terms of method, she first handwrites, on any available surface, then types. For her this is a blessing, as it allows for the story to be put down twice and improved.
5 - And lastly, sometimes we need a change of scene. Maya Angelou would often check into a hotel room to write. Asking that the staff remove all sources of stimulation form the room, including the pictures on the walls. She bought the room, which was near her home, by the month, to allow for writing sessions at her leisure. This method allowed her to fully concentrate on the task at hand.
There you have it, five great writers and how they wrote. Maybe this advice will work for you, perhaps not. Their advice is at least worth a try, after all it does work for them. Maybe you won’t win a Nobel Prize, but you don’t need to. All you need to do is write.
What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.
- Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
An ordained Lama in a Tibetan Buddhist lineage, Lama Rod grew up a queer, black male within the black Christian church in the American south. Navigating all of these intersecting, evolving identities has led him to a life's work based on compassion for self and others.
- "What I'm interested in is deep, systematic change. What I understand now is that real change doesn't happen until change on the inside begins to happen."
- "Masculinity is not inherently toxic. Patriarchy is toxic. We have to let that energy go so we can stop forcing other people to do emotional labor for us."
We were gaining three IQ points per decade for many, many years. Now, that's going backward. Could this explain some of our choices lately?
There's a new study out of Norway that indicates our—well, technically, their—IQs are shrinking, to the tune of about seven IQ points per generation.
Here's why generalists triumph over specialists in the new era of innovation.
- Since the explosion of the knowledge economy in the 1990s, generalist inventors have been making larger and more important contributions than specialists.
- One theory is that the rise of rapid communication technologies allowed the information created by specialists to be rapidly disseminated, meaning generalists can combine information across disciplines to invent something new.
- Here, David Epstein explains how Nintendo's Game Boy was a case of "lateral thinking with withered technology." He also relays the findings of a fascinating study that found the common factor of success among comic book authors.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.