Tag Archives: write

George Saunders on the writing life

George Saunders published an essay in The New Yorker on the influence of his teachers throughout his writing life. Here are some notable excerpts from the piece:

Writers are often seen as reclusive, shy, keep-to-themselves types. While at Syracuse, George learned a different and perhaps more valuable lesson; that writers are supposed to be interesting to the people they meet. If they’re not interesting in real life, how are they supposed to be interesting in print?

  • “We are supposed to be—are required to be—interesting. We’re not only allowed to think about audience, we’d better. What we’re doing in writing is not all that different from what we’ve been doing all our lives, i.e., using our personalities as a way of coping with life. Writing is about charm, about finding and accessing and honing ones’ particular charms.”

Writers are professionals at rejection. A majority of people can’t handle rejection in any form, but imagine putting in hours and hours of time and brainpower into a piece only to have it dragged through the mud by a reviewer, or worse, not have it see the light of day at all? George recounts a time when his college professor, and published author, Doug Unger faced a bad review with grace:

  • “Doug talks about the importance of being able to extract the useful bits from even a hurtful review: this is important, because it will make the next book better. He talks about the fact that it was hard for him to get up this morning after that review and write, but that he did it anyway. He’s in it for the long haul, we can see. He’s a fighter, and that’s what we must become too: we have to learn to honor our craft by refusing to be beaten, by remaining open, by treating every single thing that happens to us, good or bad, as one more lesson on the longer path.”

And a few other poignant lines:

  • “I’d forgotten: literature is a form of fondness-for-life. It is love for life taking verbal form.”
  • “Good teaching is grounded in generosity of spirit.”
  • [On providing someone undivided attention while they speak and/or share with you] “He is, with his attention, making a place for her to tell her story—giving her permission to tell it, blessing her telling of it.”

The Writer’s Manifesto – Stop Writing to Be Read & Adored

Jeff Goins“Writers don’t write to get published.
They write for another reason.
This is the first and only lesson every writer must learn.

Real writers don’t write for recognition.
They don’t do it for fame, accolades, or notoriety.
They do it because they cannot not write.”

It’s true, I can’t not write. Read the entire piece from Jeff Goins.

What makes you a writer? If you write.

Writers write. It's as simple as that.
Writers write. It’s as simple as that.


“It’s none of their business if you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.”

– Ernest Hemingway


Some people were born writers. I’m not one of those people. That still doesn’t stop me from responding, “I’m a writer,” when asked (the frankly rude, in my opinion) question, “What do you do?”

I’ve been writing professionally for seven  years, but still don’t feel I deserve the designation because I haven’t achieved my goal of writing for myself every day.

For the purpose of a self pep talk, I have come to accept that what makes me a writer isn’t necessarily that I’m paid to do it … it’s that I write. I don’t write every day — I should — but I write regularly. I write often. I write enough. I’ve put in so much writing time that now I’m published and getting published is getting easier.

Just like everything in life, you’ve got to take it one step at a time. The more  you work on something the more skilled you will become. Don’t give up, just put fingers to keyboard.