Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Writing Encouragement

"When you are actually writing, and working as hard as you should be if you want to succeed, you will feel inadequate, stupid, and tired. If you don't feel like that, then you aren't working hard enough." - Michael C. Munger
Read the rest of Munger's advice on writing less badly here, and Scot McKnight's reflections here.

I've got a few more substantive posts in the works, pending time.


John Ottens said...

Baked in the same oven are the halfwits who expect to achieve immortal fame by writing books. The whole tribe of them are deeply in folly's debt, most obviously those who blacken reams of paper with pure piffle. But there's not much to be said, either, for those who write learned books for the judgment of a few other learned men and expect to be studied even by Persius and Lelius. These erudites seem to me more pitiable than happy, since they are assiduous self-torturers. They change, they interline, they erase something and put it back in, they rewrite the whole thing, after rephrasing a passage they show it to their friends and after all they closet up the manuscript for nine years but without ever satisfying themselves--and this for an empty reward of praise from a mere handful of critics. And this idle end they pursue despite vast expense of midnight oil, frequent loss of sleep (of all things the most precious), and endless waste of life's good things on unprofitable or insoluble riddles. Add to this the loss of health, the crumbling away of good looks, bleared eyes or even blindness, poverty, envious colleagues, rejection of pleasures, sudden senility, untimely death, and anything else of the sort that you can think of. All this grief they gladly accept as the price of having their work appreciated by a couple of blear-eyed 'experts.' But a writer of my school cultivates a much happier vein of craziness, since he takes no care over his work, but just writes down whatever pops into his head or slips off his pen, even his dreams. No waste of paper here. He knows perfectly well that the sillier the nonsense he puts down, the better it will appeal in a mass audience, who are almost all fools and blockheads. What does it matter if three men of judgment--even supposing they read his work in the first place--despise it? What weight will their minority opinion carry in such an overwhelming crowd of admirers?

--Desiderius Erasmus, writing as the character 'Folly' in _The Praise of Folly_

d. miller said...

So a plague on all their houses, says folly?

John Ottens said...

I don't think so. I think that folly takes delight in their foolishness . . . but she wishes that they'd stop pretending to be wise.

d. miller said...

That's helpful, thanks. I read the Praise of Folly several years ago now, but sometimes had trouble discerning what Erasmus was praising and what he was critiquing. The 16th century context didn't make things any easier.