How To Become A Better Writer?

This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Jason Parker 2 years, 6 months ago.

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  • 04 Jul 2015 at 5:53 pm #7296

    Jason Parker
    Member

    I’ve been a member here a while. My normal username is jasonp, but I can’t seem to recover my password.

    I wonder how McCarthy became a good writer, then a great writer, then one of the greatest, how he broke through plateus.

    Do you have any McCarthian tips for breaking through plateus?

    I wonder if he copyworked Joyce and Melville and Faulkner and Dostoyevsky. I wonder if he memorized their work. And I wonder if he is just a genius and got to his level by good old fashioned reading and writing.

    The reason I’m asking is because it feels like I hit a wall in my own writing. I haven’t been able to break through to the next level. I have a few short stories published in Literary magazines, so I’m decent, but having trouble getting to the next level.

    Any advice, McCarthian or otherwise, would be appreciated.


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    06 Jul 2015 at 10:37 am #7298

    Toni
    Member

    Jason,

    I think becoming a better writer is something you can “detect” only
    in retrospect. Of course when you write a lot and you read it and re-
    write and re-read it again, you can see things going forward and how
    the process is taking place, but essentially I think it takes a body
    of work for you, or your readers, to see how the writing has developed
    from one piece to the next.

    In my own writing I have noticed these things come at long intervals:
    one day when I’m reading my stuff it just kind of jumps at me that there
    is something new there which seems like progress/better. It’s hard work
    and more hard work. As frustrating as it is, I think the old “read and
    write and then some” is pretty much the only way to go.

    But I certainly would find it straining to focus on trying to write better.
    I mean, taking that as the main goal. The first rule I follow is “This is
    not about me, this is about the story.” I keep reminding myself that I am
    in service of the piece I’m working on, not the other way around. Another
    thing that may be useful is to learn how to let it go for a while. Let the
    work rest, and let yourself rest.

    I believe the work has all the answers within it and as long as you keep
    showing up and give yourself to it 100%, it is going to get better in every
    way.

    I am stuck with my own novel at the moment, so I don’t know if I’m anyone
    to give advice, or if what I’m saying makes any sense, but I wish you all
    the strength in the world. Lord knows we need it.


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    12 Jul 2015 at 4:14 pm #7325

    Jason Parker
    Member

    I just had a thought about this. I think McCarthy basically emulated Faulkner and Joyce in the beginning. Although Moby Dick is his favorite novel, I don’t see the influence, the rambling, the internal exploration, other than the structure of Blood Meridian.


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