Spend it All: Advice from Annie Dillard

Annie Dillard

Annie Dillard

Annie Dillard has written eleven books, including “An American Childhood” and “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek”. In “The Writing Life” she goes into her life as a writer, and explains the ins and outs of what a writer needs to do to have a successful book.

Here are some gems from The Writing Life:

  • “One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place…. Something more will arise for later, something better.”
  • “Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case.”
  • “It is no less difficult to write sentences in a recipe than sentences in Moby-Dick. So you might as well write Moby-Dick.”
  • “When you write, you lay out a line of words. The line of words is a miner’s pick, a wood carver’s gouge, a surgeon’s probe. You wield it, and it digs a path you follow. Soon you find yourself deep in new territory. Is it a dead end, or have you located the real subject? You will know tomorrow, or this time next year.”
  • “A work in progress quickly becomes feral. It reverts to a wild state overnight. . . it is a lion growing in strength. You must visit it every day and reassert your mastery over it. If you skip a day, you are, quite rightly, afraid to open the door to its room. You enter its room with bravura, holding a chair at the thing and shouting, ‘Simba!’”

From Wikipedia:

Annie Dillard (born April 30, 1945) is an American author, best known for her narrative prose in both fiction and non-fiction. She has published works of poetry, essays, prose, and literary criticism, as well as two novels and one memoir. Her 1974 work Pilgrim at Tinker Creek won the 1974 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. Dillard taught for 21 years in the English department of Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut.

 

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2 thoughts on “Spend it All: Advice from Annie Dillard

  1. I loved The Writing Life so much that I immediately started it over once I had finished reading it the first time. I love how honest and poetic she is at the same time. It’s one of my favorite writing books. Thanks for sharing.

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