Brain Pickings

Reads tagged with “writing”

Can Goodness Win? George Saunders on Writing, the Artist’s Task, and the Importance of Living with Opposing Truths
Can Goodness Win? George Saunders on Writing, the Artist’s Task, and the Importance of Living with Opposing Truths

“See how long you can stay in that space, where both things are true… That’s a great place to try to be.”

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W.H. Auden on Writing, Belief, Doubt, False vs. True Enchantment, and the Most Important Principle of Making Art
W.H. Auden on Writing, Belief, Doubt, False vs. True Enchantment, and the Most Important Principle of Making Art

“We must believe before we can doubt, and doubt before we can deny.”

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Dostoyevsky on Integrity, Success, and the Ultimate Goal of Creative Work
Dostoyevsky on Integrity, Success, and the Ultimate Goal of Creative Work

“The artist … must consecrate all his toil to the holy spirit of art — such toil is holy, chaste, and demands single-heartedness.”

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John Steinbeck on Writing, the Crucible of Creativity, and the Mobilizing Power of the Impossible
John Steinbeck on Writing, the Crucible of Creativity, and the Mobilizing Power of the Impossible

“A good writer always works at the impossible.”

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Junot Díaz on the Complexities Beneath the Blanket Term “Race,” Our Limiting Mythologies of Success, Why Dictatorships Are Like Reddit, and How Artists Survive
Junot Díaz on the Complexities Beneath the Blanket Term “Race,” Our Limiting Mythologies of Success, Why Dictatorships Are Like Reddit, and How Artists Survive

“I don’t think we can safely say just because someone has some sort of visible markers of success that in any way they have avoided any of the dysfunctions… We don’t know anything about anybody.”

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Elizabeth Alexander on Writing, the Ethic of Love, Language as a Vehicle for the Self, and the Inherent Poetry of Personhood
Elizabeth Alexander on Writing, the Ethic of Love, Language as a Vehicle for the Self, and the Inherent Poetry of Personhood

“You have to tell your own story simultaneously as you hear and respond to the stories of others.”

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James Baldwin on Freedom and How We Imprison Ourselves
James Baldwin on Freedom and How We Imprison Ourselves

“We made the world we’re living in and we have to make it over.”

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How to Handle Criticism: Advice from Some of the Greatest Writers of the Past Century
How to Handle Criticism: Advice from Some of the Greatest Writers of the Past Century

Wisdom and wit from Kurt Vonnegut, Aldous Huxley, William Styron, Truman Capote, and other literary titans.

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Annie Dillard on What It Takes to Be a Writer and Why Generosity Is the Most Powerful Animating Force of Art
Annie Dillard on What It Takes to Be a Writer and Why Generosity Is the Most Powerful Animating Force of Art

“You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment.”

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Ursula K. Le Guin on How You Make Something Good in Creative Work
Ursula K. Le Guin on How You Make Something Good in Creative Work

“Inexperienced writers tend to seek the recipes for writing well. You buy the cookbook, you take the list of ingredients, you follow the directions, and behold! A masterpiece! The Never-Falling Soufflé!”

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