Thursday, May 24, 2012

Writing Tips from John Steinbeck

I'm a fan of John Steinbeck's novels and think his writing is wonderful. So, I was pleased to discover an online article by Maria Popova titled Six Tips on Writing from John Steinbeck. In Popova's article, I read Steinbeck's advice regarding writing. Here's Steinbeck's 6 writing tips:
  1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.

  2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.

  3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.

  4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.

  5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.

  6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.
I found it fascinating to read the writing advice/tips Steinbeck offered to writers.


  1. I've learned a lot of what he's said here through trial and error... and it's interesting when you do find out that writing is just about how much you'd like to get down on paper first. Then, you work on it chapter by chapter and not line by line.

    Otherwise we'd never have any books published. :D

  2. Thanks for sharing. These are great tips, especially #3. I'm going to try to keep that in mind as I work on my novel in progress.