William Faulkner

William Faulkner’s Advice for Aspiring Writers

Write for pleasure

“Keep it amateur. You’re not writing for money but for pleasure. It should be fun. And it should be exciting. Maybe not as you write, but after it’s done you should feel an excitement, a passion. That doesn’t mean feeling proud, sitting there gloating over what you’ve done. It means you know you’ve done your best. Next time it’s going to be better.”

Get a job

“Don’t make writing your work. Get another job so you’ll have money to buy the things you want in life. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you don’t count on money and a deadline for your writing. You’ll be able to find plenty of time for writing, no matter how much time your job takes. I’ve never met anyone who couldn’t find enough time to write what he [sic.] wanted.”

William Faulkner at his writing desk
William Faulkner at his writing desk

Don’t be ‘a writer’

“Don’t be ‘a writer’ but instead be writing. Being ‘a writer’ means being stagnant. The act of writing shows movement, activity, life. When you stop moving, you’re dead. It’s never too soon to start writing, as soon as you learn to read.”

In order to write, read…

“That’s the best way to learn how to write, from reading. Study what other people have written. Watch how they’re writing about people, not facts or ideas.”

Source: William Faulkner, ‘Advice to a Young Writer’, Daily Princetonian, 19 March 1958

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