First, I must start with a disclaimer. I don’t know Natalie. I’ve never met her in person. I haven’t read all her books, but I’m a fan just the same. The truth is, I’ve read many of her books and I’d like to share 13 things she taught me about writing.
Note: As my friends know, I don’t always pay attention to the main points. Some of these aren’t Natalie’s core rules, but many are. Any poor wordings or misunderstandings here are student error (mine), not Natalie’s.
1.) To start writing, you need to begin. Start cheaply with a good pen and some paper. You don’t have to spend a lot.
2.) Once you start, don’t stop. “Keep your hand moving,” she says.
3.) Give details. Be as specific as possible. There’s a big difference between a flame point Siamese and a lynx.
4.) Say what you want. Don’t worry about being polite or proper. If you want to swear or cry or rant, go ahead.
5.) Don’t worry about all those writing rules from English literature and high school composition. If need be, basics such as grammar, punctuation and spelling can wait until you’ve got your ideas on paper.
6.) Write like a street fighter. Don’t be afraid to gut-punch or throw a haymaker.
7.) Get what you need to say out.
8.) Good writing takes time. Have the compassion to give yourself that time.
9.) Practice. Writing, like all learned skills. takes practice.
10.) If you want to get good at writing you have to practice a lot. (Yeah, I know I’m repeating. That’s how practice works.)
11.)Tell the truth. Honesty adds power to art.
12.)Time your writing. Do 10-minute drills. They work.
13.)When you get discouraged about your writing journey, read Natalie, she’ll lift your spirits.
My favorite quote from Natalie comes from her Minnesota Workshop, "Writing the Landscape of Your Mind." She says, "The gift of good writing is a moment in being present and if the writing is present, you almost physically can't turn from it."
Do you have a favorite Natalie quote? Has she inspired you?
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