A good reader makes an informed writer. In this age of information overload, wildly spun articles, and readers with quick attention spans, it takes a lot more than the usual 500-word article to really rile up the senses and inspire writers like you to find new ideas. Fortunately, this type of inspiration can be found in profound works of prose that talks about the thing you love the most—writing.
Here are seven articles on writing that can bring back that spark for you and get you to write something of note:
1. On treating stories like onions
The article entitled “Layering” by Sadie Stein understands that writers can sometimes get stuck, particularly when trying to start telling a story or any piece of composition. Stein passes down an inspiring piece of advice he found in a cookbook, of all places. And yet, treating stories and life like an onion makes sense as you realize that you also need to peel every layer of it to be able to understand and relay it in a way that your readers will enjoy.
Stein writes, “For anyone who has been a child or heard a story (most of us), these words stir a certain excitement. Something is about to happen—usually something with a reliable beginning, middle, and end, safely contained in a world apart from your own.”
2. On taking creative writing classes
The piece, “Why We Still Need Richard Hugo’s Defense of Creative Writing Classes” by Laura Lampton Scott explains to mentors, professors, and writers an essay by the poet Hugo House. Scott stresses House’s point that creative writing should still be taught despite doubts that the topic can be learned at all. This essay is inspiring – especially for new writers who are in doubt about their capacity to write – putting merit in that genuine impulse to write and the obsessions that drive them.
Scott writes, “What else do we need to know: creative writing classes and mentors will always be needed; listen to your colleagues; read and write; don’t hide your ignorance; follow your obsessions (or as we might say now, 'nerd out'); try to be kind, if only because it will get your further; don’t pretend to know the answers; and if it’s in your power to give it to them, never deny anyone the experience of writing that one beautiful line.”
3. On getting secret stories and confessions
In the interview “Chuck Palahniuk: ‘You Can’t Just Be a Spectator,” we are invited into the insights of the writer of popular extreme novels like “Fight Club,” “Choke,” and “Lullaby.” Palahniuk expounds on his affinity for writing so much about sex and death, a surprisingly optimistic worldview, and living a life of stark contrast to his stories.
Palahnkiuk said, “I like it when you’re not getting stories from a publication or broadcast—those are stories that everyone will know—but you’re getting the secret stories that you can only get from individuals.”
4. On which quality dominates in writers
Maria Popova writes in her popular blog, Brain Pickings, of the insights of “Lolita” author Vladimir Nabokov on writing, reading, and the three qualities a great storyteller must have. She focused on how Nabokov sees good fiction stories formed out of deliberate deception and an imitation of what happens in nature or real life.
Popova writes, “Indeed, our capacity for self-delusion is one of the most inescapable fundamentals of the human condition, and nowhere do we engage it more willingly and more voraciously than in the art and artifice of storytelling.”
5. On writing for private audiences
Sometimes, writers are called on to create pieces either without the promise of publication or the outright agreement to never have it released in public. In the piece “Writing Books Very Few Will Read,” William Novak outlines the circumstances of writing for private audiences, the usual demands, and subjects involved.
Novak writes, “There’s some truth to the notion that a biography can bring a person back to life. Neither of these memorials has even been printed, let alone distributed. But to the families, they mean the world.”