I’ve always been suspicious of writing advice given by authors. Like parenting advice, it’s based on knowledge that’s highly intensive, but also extremely limited: even the most prolific writer has intimate, unfiltered knowledge of the writing process of exactly one person — him/herself.
Instead of a list of tips or steps to follow (not that those can’t help every once in a while), what I love is listening to writers narrate their own experiences. They often tell compelling, illuminating stories about coming into their vocation, of finding their way into stories, and of dealing with the pleasures and challenges of a difficult and opaque process.
If some word appealed to me, I’d say it over and over again. It would go around in my head the way the snatches of a song would.
(John McPhee, The Art of Nonfiction No. 3)
“The Art of Nonfiction,” a series of interviews with authors at The Paris…
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