10 Observations On Writing From John Boyne

  1. I want to write stories that matter, that have a real point to them. I’m not interested in vampires.
  2. When I started out I thought that a life as a writer would be simply about staying at home, writing books, publishing them and moving on to the next one. But writers also have to be performers these days. I spend a large portion of my year either on book tours or attending international literary festivals and audiences demand that, if they’re giving up an hour to hear you speak, you give them a good show. And this is a skill that a writer only develops over time. There’s such a dichotomy between the two worlds: the first is so private and solitary, a life lived in the mind, the second so public and theatrical. Fortunately, I rather enjoy both.
  3. I read everything that interests me – contemporary novels, biographies, histories, classics. Like most writers and avid readers, I have a pile of books beside me as I type this that I want to read.
  4. My two greatest influences are Charles Dickens and John Irving, writers separated by more than a century.
  5. When I was a student on the creative writing course at the University of East Anglia in ‘94/’95, I was taught by the novelist Malcolm Bradbury. He told us that we should write every single day, 365 days a year, even Christmas Day. That whatever we were working on would only get finished by writing, writing, writing. I followed this advice and it is quite rare that I spend a day without committing at least a few paragraphs to page.
  6. The idea that you can’t explore contemporary themes in a historical setting is ludicrous. Do I want to write a novel set today? Only if I have the right story to tell. The times don’t matter at all – it’s always the story, the story, the story.
  7. Children’s fiction is a place of incredible passion – among writers, publishers, librarians and teachers – and the standard of writing is higher than it has ever been.
  8. It’s not easy making a living as a writer and for many years I worked at a Waterstones in Dublin. It was a good environment for an aspiring writer, with lots of events and authors appearing.
  9. The truth is that I can’t remember a moment when I didn’t want to be a writer. From childhood, I loved books, I loved stories and I loved writing my own.
  10. I think a lack of self-consciousness is important. Feeling that one can try different styles, different types of writing without everything having to be perfect. As a young writer, there is no chance that everything you write will be published so it’s worth experimenting.

William Randolph Hearst On Writing

  1. You must keep your mind on the objective, not the obstacle.
  2. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake, your readers might like it.
  3. All work and no play may make Jim a dull boy, but no work and all play makes Jim all kinds of a jackass.
  4. News is something somebody doesn’t want printed; all else is advertising.
  5. Try to be conspicuously accurate in everything, pictures as well as text. Truth is not only stranger than fiction, it is more interesting.
  6. It is a good thing that women are so easily manipulated. Otherwise, most of us wouldn’t be here.
  7. Putting out a newspaper without promotion is like winking at a girl in the dark — well intentioned, but ineffective
  8. You can crush a man with journalism.

Gustave Flaubert on Writing

Gustave Flaubert was an influential French writer who is counted among the greatest novelists in Western literature. He is known especially for his first published novel, Madame Bovary (1857), for his Correspondence, and for his scrupulous devotion to his art and style. The celebrated short story writer Maupassant was a protégé of Flaubert.

  1. The author, in his work, must be like God in the Universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere.
  2. Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.
  3. To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost.
  4. There is no truth. There is only perception.
  5. Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.
  6. Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.
  7. Everything one invents is true, you may be perfectly sure of that. Poetry is as precise as geometry.
  8. Judge the goodness of a book by the energy of the punches it has given you. I believe the greatest characteristic of genius, is, above all, force.
  9. Writing is a dog’s life, but the only life worth living.
  10. Stupidity is something unshakable; nothing attacks it without breaking itself against it; it is of the nature of granite, hard and resistant.
  11. One can be the master of what one does, but never of what one feels.
  12. One arrives at style only with atrocious effort, with fanatical and devoted stubbornness.
  13. You must write for yourself, above all. That is your only hope of creating something beautiful.
  14. One never tires of what is well written, style is life! It is the very blood of thought!
  15. The one way of tolerating existence is to lose oneself in literature as in a perpetual orgy.