1.Make detailed notes when something occurs to you (always carry a notebook and pen)
2.Creative moments may be random – and they may not – make note of what stimulates your creativity
3.Write something every day
4.Write what pleases/interests you
5.Good writing is re-writing
6.Never throw anything away
7.Read something every day
8.Read what pleases/interests you
9.All (or almost all) writing benefits from good editing – at the right time. You are generally your worst editor. Try to find a good editor or editors. But remember that good writing is rewriting – do not submit items for editing before their time
10.Master today’s technology (or find help): you do not need a traditional publisher.
One learns to write well first by writing (and re-writing and having knowledgeable people comment). One learns to write well second by reading good examples of the type one wants to write (verse, fiction, essays, general expository (including journalism), didactic, argumentative, etc.). One learns to write well third by reading books on writing (both general and on the type of writing one wants to do: verse, fiction, expository, etc.).
Prose stylists I particularly recommend include H. L. Mencken, T. S. Eliot, George Orwell, W. H. Hudson, Sigfried Sassoon, Scott Fitzgerald, Samuel Beckett, Larry McMurtry, Bill Bryson.
Verse stylists I particularly recommend include Wordsworth, Longfellow, Tennyson, Whitman, Lanier, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Yeats, E. A. Robinson, Frost, Edward Thomas, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, W. H. Auden, Ogden Nash, X. J. Kennedy, Philip Larkin, Les Murray, Simon Armitage, Jack Gilbert, Brian Turner (the American poet, not the New Zealand one), Edwin Morgan, Paul Muldoon, Derek Mahon, Michael Longley, Gwyneth Lewis.
Books on language and writing I particularly recommend include:
- Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words – plus Mother Tongue - plus Made in America (all writers should read)
- Zinsser, On Writing Well: 25th Anniversary Edition (ditto)
- Strumpf and Douglas, The Grammar Bible (ditto)
- Williams, Style: Toward Clarity and Grace (ditto)
- Yagoda, The Sound on the Page (ditto)
- Geary, The World in a Phrase (ditto)
- Prose, Reading Like a Writer (ditto)
- Herrick, The History and Theory of Rhetoric: An Introduction (3rd edition) (ditto)
- Kinzie, A Poets Guide to Poetry (verse)
- Lennard, The Poetry Handbook, 2nd edition (ditto)
- Alden, English Verse (ditto)
- Martin and Tichenor, Reduced Shakespeare (ditto)
- King, On Writing (mainly for creative writers)
- Wodehouse, Performing Flea (ditto)
- Talese, Writing Creative Non-Fiction (ditto)
- Graves & Hodge, The Reader Over Your Shoulder (ditto)
- Ueland, If You Want To Write (ditto)
- McMurtry items (the writing life): In A Narrow Grave; Film Flam; Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen