Saturday 29 May 2021

My Favourite Writing Tip - Nick Garlick

A month or so ago, fellow ABBA blogger Saviour Pirotta offered us his thoughts on Billy Wilder’s Ten Screenwriting Tips. It’s a post I’ve bookmarked and go back to from time to time because I find it both thoughtful and stimulating.

But I’d like here to add one other writer’s tip that has been an enormous help to me. It’s from John Steinbeck, and it’s one of six he offered in The Writer’s Chapbook: a compendium of thoughts on writing by various authors, compiled by George Plimpton for The Paris Review.

Steinbeck wrote:

Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day; it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.

Now, I’ve never written anything that’s 400 pages long, and on most days when I’m working I manage more than a single page. But what I find so encouraging in this quote is that it helps me to write.

Sitting at my desk at the beginning of a story, or even halfway through - and sometimes even near the end – the thought of ever finishing can make me more than a little despondent. Will it ever get done?

But then I remind myself of Steinbeck’s advice and it always gets me going. It always helps me to set down words on paper. Just write a page – or two or even more – today. Forget tomorrow. And when it’s tomorrow, forget the day after that and do it again. And then again.

And then, just as Steinbeck says, something’s been finished. There it is. Done.

I’ve read much advice about writing from established writers. A lot of it has been very helpful. But if I were forced to pick just one, it would be the three sentences I’ve quoted here. I wouldn’t even hesitate.



Brittany Seiber said...
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Lynne Benton said...

Excellent advice, Nick! I will bear it in mind...

Saviour Pirotta said...

This is brilliant, Nick, and an idea I'm going to adopt myself.