Write Freely and Rapidly: John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck

“Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. [Rewriting during the initial writing] process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm, which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.”


From Wikipedia:

John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. (February 27, 1902 – December 20, 1968) was an American writer. He is widely known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath (1939) and East of Eden (1952) and the novella Of Mice and Men (1937). As the author of twenty-seven books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books, and five collections of short stories, Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

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4 thoughts on “Write Freely and Rapidly: John Steinbeck

  1. This is great advice and I certainly try to work this way. The problem I have is going back and editing the piece and smoothing it. Thanks for posting.

    • You are welcome! This does seem to be a problem for many writers (finding a happy medium of free flow writing and just enough editing). Everyone deals with this a little differently. It is sure nice to see all of their differing point of views.

  2. Probably my all-time favorite! When he says, “Rewriting during the initial writing process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on,” it’s like he’s been watching me this whole time.

  3. Steinbeck also wrote:
    “It is a long and difficult craft to learn and … that a fairly sizable chuck of the craft is the ability to take the rejection slip and not have it destroy the work on the next one. Nearly every one can write the first four chapters of a book. It is writing the third book when no one would look at the first two that makes a writer.

    – Letter to Paul Caswell, 5/3/48

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