Writers Ask

A few excerpts from Writers Ask Issue 40:

Ann Patchett on having a plan:
“I love the story E.L. Doctorow tells. He didn’t have an idea for a book, so he started writing about the wall and then about the window and the garden, and the next thing he knew, he had written Ragtime. Never in a million years would that happen to me. If I don’t know where I’m going when I sit down, I don’t get anywhere.”

Liz’s reaction: It’s happened both ways for me. I like to stay open to both–and more–possibilities.

Susuan Orlean on multi-tasking: “I hate working on more than one thing at a time. I find it really tough.”

Liz’s reaction: Not me! It’s how I roll, man. If I get stuck on one thing, I shift to another for a while, then back when I’m ready.

Charles Baxter on first drafts: “Writing a first draft is the experience of not knowing how to do something and persisting at it until it begins to feel right.”

Liz’s reaction: Sounds about right to me. The story is vague until you get to that point. Vauge, but compelling.


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