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Awesome, awesome writing advice

16 Aug

The best piece of writing advice I ever got was from my high school journalism teacher. It went, simply, “Kill your darlings.”

The idea is that, as a writer, we come up with these lines or paragraphs or stories that, for one reason or another, we love. We find them brilliant or witty. We think they showcase our writing ability in a wonderful and perfect and ideal way.

And yet, they are a detriment to the story. They add nothing. They’re superfluous, and wordy and the piece, as a whole, benefits from its quick elimination. They are masturbatory prose.

But, but … it’s your darling.

Kill it. Kill it hard, kill it fast, kill it good.

Being this kind of self editor is hard, but it makes us much better writers.

I found this bit of writing advice on Buzz Feed that gave me heart palpitations. Gems include:


“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” ~ Mark Twain

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” ~ Saul Bellow (Why is this true??? My guess is that we’re not awake enough to second-guess our gut.)

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” ~ T.S. Eliot

“Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald (Yes.)

But the one that made me bounce in my seat, that made me say “yay yay yay yay yaaay”?

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” ~ Stephen King.

My favorite writer giving my favorite writing advice. My shit day has become beautiful.

What bit of writing advice did you learn once that you think of and follow regularly?


Quoted and noted: On snail mail

14 Jul

“To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.” ~ Phyllis Theroux

Quoted and noted: ‘What else was there?’

9 Jul

“Because, hey, here wa a man who stole kisses behind rickshaw drivers. And here was a man who would slice up mangoes and leave the best parts for me. And here was a man who made me feel bigger than I was. And what else was there?” ~ May Jeong, “Welcomed With Open Arms in Mumbai,” New York Times, July 8, 2012

My favorite things

12 Jun

I’m linking up for this batch of My Favorite Things for the Yes Teacher Craft’s Tickle Me Tuesday, which features Jac & Elsie this week!!

I’m loving on this little leaf ring and how it stacks so brilliantly with Nested Yellow’s other pieces. (Click on any of the images to see more.)

Amen, sister.

I really like flat note cards, and this deal is beyond amazing. If the graphic designer beau wasn’t designing all our wedding papery goodies, I’d totally use these for our wedding thank-yous.

And because this is just an awesome way to dock an iSomething … and because I JUST GOT MY TICKETS TO SEE HIM LIVE IN DECEMBER …

And, if I might reiterate that … Stephen King … and me … in the same room. Tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. June 1, the day I was driving with friends to Nashville. I started to call at 9:59 a.m. I had planned to spend too much to get the right-up-close seats. Well, by the time I finally got through at 10:16 or so, all those close seats were sold out.

So come December, the beau and I will be traveling to Massachusetts to see The Man.

((takes a deep breath))


Quoted and noted: On salt water

7 Jun

“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the ocean.” ~ Isak Dinesen

Quoted and noted: God the artist

23 Apr

“God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and the cat. He has no real style. He just goes on trying other things.” ~ Pablo Picasso

Quoted and noted: Deeeepressing

5 Apr

“The number of journalists working at U.S. newspapers today is at the lowest point since the American Society of News Editors began its annual newsroom census in 1978.” ~ Alan D. Mutter, Reflections of a Newsosaur

I mean, I knew this. Of course this is true. I look around my newsroom and marvel at all the faces I don’t see. It’s not because they’ve been laid off, in my case. (Our owner, bless her soul, hasn’t laid anyone off. The same can’t be true for other departments in this building, but I’m talking strictly in the newsroom.)

Instead, people are leaving voluntarily. They’re moving to be near family after spending less than a year in a job with no hope for raises or a promotion. They’re quitting with nothing full-time lined up, hoping to make it as freelance journalists, like the millions of other out-of-work journalists hoping to make it as freelance journalists. They’re leaving to focus on their other passions, lucky enough to have spouses to support them while they find something more full-filling.

And their desks sit empty, because these people leaving voluntarily are the reason we have had no layoffs. We just don’t replace the employees. So the folks left are picking up the slack, doing the work of a staff twice its size.

So really, it’s no wonder the number of journalists at U.S. papers today is lower than it was in 1978.