Michael Mahin

31 Flips | 1 Magazine | 4,080 Followers | @MichaelMahin | Children's Author/ Screenwriter/ Wannabe Rockstar. Learn more @ MichaelMahin.com

Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd: 10 Writing Insights

Tracy Kidder is a renowned nonfiction writer, known as a literary journalist for the way he combines story and voice with exhaustive research. He is …

Hemingway on Writing, Knowledge, and the Dangers of Ego

<i>“Writing, at its best, is a lonely life,”</i> <b>Hemingway</b> proclaimed in his short and memorable 1954 Nobel acceptance speech. In <b>Death in the Afternoon</b> (<i>public library</i>) — Hemingway’s exquisite 1932 meditation on the tradition of bullfighting, “the emotional and spiritual intensity and pure classic beauty” …

The Daily Routines of Great Writers

<i>UPDATE: These daily routines have now been adapted into a labor-of-love visualization of writers’ sleep habits vs. literary productivity.</i><p>Kurt Vonnegut’s recently published daily routine made we wonder how other beloved writers organized their days. So I pored through various old diaries and …

William Faulkner on Writing, the Purpose of Art, Working in a Brothel, and the Meaning of Life

When <i>The Paris Review</i> launched in 1953, it revolutionized the art of the interview. Over the decades that followed, the revered publication offered unprecedented glimpses of literary history’s greatest minds, which yielded such timeless gems as E. B. White on the responsibility of the writer and the …

Susan Sontag on Writing

The newly released volume of Susan Sontag’s diaries, <b>As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980</b> (<i>public library</i>), from whence Sontag’s thoughtful meditations on censorship and aphorisms came, is an absolute treasure trove of rare insight into one of the greatest minds …

Six Tips on Writing from John Steinbeck

If this is indeed the year of reading more and writing better, we’ve been right on course with David Ogilvy’s 10 no-nonsense tips, Henry Miller’s 11 commandments, and various invaluable advice from other great writers.<p>Now comes Pulitzer Prize winner and Nobel laureate <b>John Steinbeck</b> (February 27, …

F. Scott Fitzgerald on the Secret to Great Writing: Letters of Advice to a Friend’s Teenage Daughter and to His Own

What is the secret of great writing? For David Foster Wallace, it was about fun. For Henry Miller, about discovery. Susan Sontag saw it as self-exploration. Many literary greats anchored it to their daily routines. And yet, the answer remains elusive and ever-changing.<p>In the fall of 1938, Radcliffe …

H.P. Lovecraft’s Advice to Aspiring Writers: Timeless Counsel from 1920

<i>“If there is a magic in story writing,”</i> Steinbeck admonished, <i>“and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another.”</i> And yet, famous advice on writing abounds.<p>In January of 1920, iconic science fiction and fantasy author <b>H. P.</b> …

Henry Miller: 10 Writing Tips

Henry Miller created something of a new literary form: semi-autobiographical novels that merged storytelling with philosophy, mysticism, and social …

Billy Wilder: 10 Screenwriting Tips

Billy Wilder was one of the greatest writer/directors in film history, having co-written and directed such classics as <i>Sunset Boulevard, Some Like it</i> …

Kurt Vonnegut: 8 Basics of Creative Writing

Kurt Vonnegut created some of the most outrageously memorable novels of our time, such as <i>Cat's Cradle</i>, <i>Breakfast Of Champions</i>, and <i>Slaughterhouse Five</i>. …

Edgar Allan Poe: 5 Essentials for the Betterment of a Story

Edgar Allan Poe penned immortal poems, such as “The Raven" and “Annabel Lee," and unforgettable tales of psychological horror, such as “The Tell-Tale …

George Orwell: 6 Questions/6 Rules

George Orwell has earned the right to be called one of the finer writers in the English language through such novels as <i>1984,</i> <i>Animal Farm,</i> and <i>Down and</i> …

Andrew Motion: 10 Techniques to Spark the Writing - Expert writing tips

Andrew Motion has garnered the highest acclaim as a poet, including a knighthood and the post of Poet Laureate of the UK. In addition to his many …

Elmore Leonard: 10 Rules for Good Writing

Elmore Leonard started out writing westerns, then turned his talents to crime fiction. One of the most popular and prolific writers of our time, he's …

Ronald Knox: 10 Commandments of Detective Fiction

Ronald Knox was a mystery writer in the early part of the 20th century who belonged to the Detection Club, a society peopled by such legendary …

Jack Kerouac: 30 Cool Tips

Jack Kerouac was one of those writers who reinvented literature. He climbed in James Joyce's stream of consciousness car then careened down the …

P.D. James: 5 Bits of Writing Advice

P.D. James lives in the pantheon of the great writers of crime fiction. She is most famous for the creation of Scotland Yard's Detective Inspector …

Neil Gaiman: 8 Good Writing Practices

Neil Gaiman has become so popular he is often considered the rock star of the literary world. He trades mostly in science fiction and fantasy in a …

Creative Writing

Margaret Atwood's rules for writers

1 Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can't sharpen it on the plane, because you can't take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.<p>2 If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.<p>3 Take …

Ten rules for writing fiction (part two)

<b>Hilary Mantel</b><p><b>1</b> Are you serious about this? Then get an accountant.<p><b>2</b> Read <i>Becoming a Writer</i>, by Dorothea Brande. Then do what it says, including the tasks you think are impossible. You will particularly hate the advice to write first thing in the morning, but if you can manage it, it might well be …

Roddy Doyle's rules for writers

1 Do not place a photograph of your ­favourite author on your desk, especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide.<p>2 Do be kind to yourself. Fill pages as quickly as possible; double space, or write on every second line. Regard every new page as a small triumph ­–<p>3 Until …

Hilary Mantel's rules for writers

<b>1.</b> Are you serious about this? Then get an accountant.<p><b>2.</b> Read Becoming a Writer, by Dorothea Brande. Then do what it says, including the tasks you think are impossible. You will particularly hate the advice to write first thing in the morning, but if you can manage it, it might well be the best …

Michael Moorcock's rules for writers

1 My first rule was given to me by TH White, author of The Sword in the Stone and other Arthurian fantasies and was: Read. Read everything you can lay hands on. I always advise people who want to write a fantasy or science fiction or romance to stop reading everything in those genres and start …

Will Self's rules for writers

<b>1</b> Don't look back until you've written an entire draft, just begin each day from the last sentence you wrote the preceeding day. This prevents those cringing feelings, and means that you have a substantial body of work before you get down to the real work which is all in . . .<p><b>2</b> The edit.<p><b>3</b> Always …

Zadie Smith's rules for writers

1 When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else.<p>2 When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.<p>3 Don't romanticise your "vocation". You can either write good sentences or you can't. …

Sarah Waters's rules for writers

1 Read like mad. But try to do it analytically – which can be hard, because the better and more compelling a novel is, the less conscious you will be of its devices. It's worth trying to figure those devices out, however: they might come in useful in your own work. I find watching films also …

Michael Morpurgo's rules for writers

1 The prerequisite for me is to keep my well of ideas full. This means living as full and varied a life as possible, to have my antennae out all the time.<p>2 Ted Hughes gave me this advice and it works wonders: record moments, fleeting impressions, overheard dialogue, your own sadnesses and …

Elmore Leonard's rules for writers

<b>Using adverbs is a mortal sin</b><p><b>1</b> Never open a book with weather. If it's only to create atmosphere, and not a charac­ter's reaction to the weather, you don't want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead look­ing for people. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has …