I read Colson Whitehead's How To Write several weeks ago, and I still can't come up with a witty introduction or smooth segueway into his gem of a piece:
Rule No. 7: Writer’s block is a tool — use it. When asked why you haven’t produced anything lately, just say, “I’m blocked.” Since most people think that writing is some mystical process where characters “talk to you” and you can hear their voices in your head, being blocked is the perfect cover for when you just don’t feel like working. The gods of creativity bless you, they forsake you, it’s out of your hands and whatnot. Writer’s block is like “We couldn’t get a baby sitter” or “I ate some bad shrimp,” an excuse that always gets you a pass.
The guy knows writing. Knows it. Half magic, half frustration, half you and half everything else.
Rule No. 4: Never use three words when one will do. Be concise. Don’t fall in love with the gentle trilling of your mellifluous sentences. Learn how to “kill your darlings,” as they say.
Oh, if only. I spend most of my time wishing for a good editor: it's probably harder than ever to find one now that reality TV, fake memoirs and self-publishing are so rampant. Well, a girl can dream.
Rule No. 6: What isn’t said is as important as what is said. In many classic short stories, the real action occurs in the silences. Try to keep all the good stuff off the page.
I've never been the least bit successful in this department. I know it when I see it, but I can't control myself enough to create it. At least I can enjoy it elsewhere.
Rule No. 8: Is secret.
See what I mean? Just read the rest and thank me later, after you've chosen a more rewarding career!