You’ve read her books; you’ve been to her book signings and every time you’ve read a news notice about her winning a literary award, you beamed with pride. Sometimes, you even wish you could be her; or write like her!
Bet you went ahead and tried to pre-order her latest book Claire of the Sea Light even before it was available for pre-order. You’re that obsessed!
I’m talking about Edwidge Danticat, of course.
You’ll never write like her. Yeah, sorry to break the news to you! But fear not, you will be served with a special treat today! Some heartfelt advice from her on writing.
Let’s get started with the questions!
When you’re writing a book, how do you know when you’ve done all you can on it? When it’s arrived to that level where you’re really satisfied with it, since writers it seems don’t think they’ll ever reach perfection?
I know I’m done when I find myself putting in and removing the same things over and over. In other words, when the editing starts getting repetitive, then I know I’m done.
What do you have to say to writers who feel that nothing they write is good enough?
When I was just starting out, a teacher of mine gave me the best advice on that front. She said, the mind is infinite and there are only so many words in any language. We all sometimes feel like what we write doesn’t live up to what we imagine. You just have to keep trying to get it as close as possible. You learn to write by writing, so keep writing and you’ll get a little better with each piece. As for doubts, all writers have doubts at some point or other, about the story, about the ability to tell it, even those writers who’ve been writing for a very long time.
What’s the best way to deal with writer’s block?
Read. Change your pace. Exercise. Go to the movies. Do something else. Have some fun. Take a break. Live your life. Sometimes you just need to put some space between you and the work you’re doing. I’ve been unstuck many times while reading. Take the pressure off yourself for a while and in some cases, the flow returns.
What’s your advice to aspiring writers about perfecting their craft, developing a style of their own and about writing itself?
Read a lot. Read Broadly. And write. Write. Write. You can only become a writer by writing. You can only discover your singular voice by writing your own singular story, whatever that may be. Don’t be discouraged. Keep at it. Remember you’re the only person who can tell the story you want to tell. Others can tell their story, but only you can tell yours.
Are you a writer? Which of these pieces of advice did you find most helpful?
[Photo Credit: Charlotte Christopher]