Non-Advice for Writers from Jeffrey Ford
Jeffrey Ford, one of our best writers, recently posted this on Facebook. My wife, wisely recognizing it should not be lost, copied it and passed it along to me.
Recently a student at a writing program I’d visited wrote to me to ask for any advice I might have for his class about being a fiction writer. I told him I couldn’t offer advice. It’s not that I doubt good advice can be given, but I’m just suspicious as to whether it can be given by me. Instead I offered a list of things I, personally, believe to be true for myself (at the moment) and told them the more important question is what do they believe in for themselves. Here’s my list.
- You gotta love your work.
- Revision is the key.
- Master the skill of daydreaming and from time to time analyze its processes.
- Be a practiced observer.
- Take time to talk to friendly strangers.
- Only by forgetting about the money have I made money.
- Listen to children and animals.
- Speak your mind. Let the inmost become the outmost.
- Enjoy your freakin life.
- Be kind to other travelers you might meet on the path.
- Enjoy your colleagues’ successes.
- One must retain a zest for the battle.
- You will never learn more from a teacher or a workshop than you will from the act of writing.
- Swim through libraries.
- Family and friendships trump the importance of writing.
- Irony is the engine of the world.
- Vital fiction is not the result of hiding but an act of revelation.
- Be skeptical of advice.
- Always try to work with great editors.
- Never run with the pack as there is always a point where you will be left behind. Strike out on your own. Let your intuition be your guide.