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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Family Weekend: Tips of encouragement for National Writing Day

    In honor of the sixth annual National Day on Writing on Oct. 20, the UA Writing Program is hosting its own event on Friday at 9 a.m. on the plaza outside the Administration building. The day commemorates the act of writing in its myriad forms — from the great American novel to pulp fiction to screenplays. The Writing Program will celebrate the day by hosting games and giveaways throughout the morning.

    In the spirit of the National Day on Writing, here’s what famous authors and UA professors have to offer for tips on how to improve your writing.

    Toni Morrison, author of “Beloved”

    If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.

    Alison Hawthorne Deming, professor of creative writing

    Read, read, read!

    Ernest Hemingway, author of “A Farewell to Arms”

    All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

    Joel Smith, English lecturer

    My number one writing tip: Make sure to include singular details, and your writing will gain universal appeal. It might seem like backwards logic, but it’s true. Beginning writers sometimes worry about the reader losing interest and so rely on generalities and clichés. But as long as you write with singularity in mind, your writing will resonate.

    Aurelie Sheehan, professor of fiction

    The key to better writing is better reading. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Read books from various cultures, eras, perspectives. Read a whole ton of fiction. Immerse yourself in words and all they can create: character, metaphor, an ethical world.

    William Faulkner, author of “The Sound and the Fury”

    In writing, you must kill all your darlings.

    Christine Tardy, associate professor of English and associate director of the Writing Program

    My writing advice is to pay close attention to writing that you enjoy as a reader. Whether it’s social or academic writing, or something else, you can learn so much from looking at what other writers do when they write particular kinds of texts for different audiences.

    George R. R. Martin, author of “A Song of Ice and Fire”

    Write every day, even if it is only a page or two. The more you write, the better you’ll get. But don’t write in my universe, or Tolkien’s, or the Marvel universe, or the Star Trek universe or any other borrowed background. Every writer needs to learn to create his own characters, worlds and settings. Using someone else’s world is the lazy way out. If you don’t exercise those “literary muscles,” you’ll never develop them.

    Christopher Cokinos, associate professor of English and director of the Creative Writing MFA Program

    My number one tip for improving as a writer is to read good writing. Read works by those you love, those you don’t, those you don’t know. Work your way through anthologies to get a sense of authors you are interested in, and then dig in. Read good writing. Imitate the syntax of writers you admire. I love a book called [“Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style”] by Virginia Tufte. Every writer should own this book.

    John Green, author of “The Fault in Our Stars”

    Writing, or at least good writing, is an outgrowth of that urge to use language to communicate complex ideas and experiences between people. And that’s true whether you’re reading Shakespeare or bad vampire fiction — reading is always an act of empathy. It’s always an imagining of what it’s like to be someone else.


    Follow Mia Moran on Twitter.

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