Joyce Carol Oates Gives Writing Advice in 140 Characters

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2012 - Portraits
Acclaimed writer Joyce Carol Oates recently took to twitter to dispense some sound writing office. All of her tweets can be read here. My favorite tweet is “The first sentence can be written only after the last sentence has been written. FIRST DRAFTS ARE HELL. FINAL DRAFTS, PARADISE.” This advice should be included in the syllabus of every undergraduate creative writing class and MFA class. I also like her advice to “Be your own editor/ critic. Sympathetic but merciless” and to “Read, observe, listen intensely!–as if your life depended upon it.” The last piece of advice is especially important as a way to cure writer’s block. I find myself most inspired and ready to write after reading and observing, which require space, time, silence, and patience. To add to Oates’ tweet and to paraphrase T.S. Eliot, poetry is words on the page surrounded by silence. So, if you’re been in a writing funk lately, dig into a book, or go somewhere and observe a scene. It will help, I promise.