Writing Workshop Quotes

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Writing Workshop Quotes

Someone from the Internet Writing Workshop sent me a link to the Gender Genie, where you paste in a section of text and it uses an algorithm to detect whether the author is male or female. Or, if youre an author, you can tell whether youre really nailing your opposite-sex characters. I mean, nailing their dialog.
— Max Barry —

How come you write the way you do?" an apprentice writer in my Johns Hopkins workshop once disingenuously asked Donald Barthelme, who was visiting. Without missing a beat, Don replied, "Because Samuel Beckett was already writing the way he does."
Asked another, smiling but serious, "How can we become better writers than we are?"
"Well," DB advised, "for starters, read through the whole history of philosophy, from the pre-Socratics up through last semester. That might help."
"But Coach Barth has already advised us to read all of literature, from Gilgamesh up through last semester ... "
"That, too," Donald affirmed, and twinkled that shrewd Amish-farmer-from-West-11th-Street twinkle of his. "You're probably wasting time on things like eating and sleeping. Cease that, and read all of philosophy and all of literature. Also art. Plus politics and a few other things. The history of everything.

— John Barth

We live in a time when the values of courage and honesty, particularly for women writers, equate to confessing only the darkest, most painful parts of our lives. "How brave you are," my students say to each other over workshop tables, "to expose that." Meaning, to uncover this family secret or that heinous act or to openly confront the demons of alcoholism, promiscuity, substance abuse, incest, infidelity, illness, betrayal ... I have also wrestled many dark angels, and continue to do so, so I acknowledge the price such writing exacts. But more and more I have come to respect the honesty and courage required to recognize the bright angels when they appear in our memory, and to allow them equal space in our narratives.

— Rebecca McClanahan

The very first thing I tell my new students on the first day of a workshop is that good writing is about telling the truth. We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason they write so very little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out.

— Anne Lamott

I don't go online when I'm writing - that's the devil's workshop - but in general, I'm on there as much as any other global citizen.

— Stacey D'Erasmo

I'm an ecumenical reader, grew up with all sorts of fiction, teach writing, went to the Iowa Writers' Workshop, so my tastes and interests are broad.

— Justin Cronin

I was not going to use writing for advertising or journalism. I would tend bar, load trucks, chauffeur - do whatever it took. But from the moment I took my first writing workshop, I was a writer.

— Dennis Lehane

I got out of college and I went to get my master's in creative writing at San Francisco State. I was working as an actor at the Actor's Workshop, being abused as a intern.

— Peter Coyote

[T]he young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.
He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed - love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.

— William Faulkner

I took a couple of creative writing classes with Joyce Carol Oates at Princeton University, and in my senior year there, I took a long fiction workshop with Toni Morrison. I fell in love with it.

— Mohsin Hamid

Someone from the Internet Writing Workshop sent me a link to the Gender Genie, where you paste in a section of text and it uses an algorithm to detect whether the author is male or female. Or, if you're an author, you can tell whether you're really nailing your opposite-sex characters. I mean, nailing their dialog.

— Max Barry

My notion of a failed writing workshop is when everybody comes out replicating the teacher and imitating as closely as possible the great original at the head of the table. I think that's a mistake, in obvious opposition to the ideal of teaching which permits a student to be someone other than the teacher ... The successful teacher has to make each of the students a different product rather than the same.

— Nicholas Delbanco

The ideal for me is to mix it up. When I have a writing workshop, I like to have people that are anthropologists and people who are poking around in other fields, I like to have them all in the same workshop, and not worry about genre.

— Sandra Cisneros

We are often struck by the force and precision of style to which hard-working men, unpracticed in writing, easily attain when required to make the effort. As if plainness and vigor and sincerity, the ornaments of style, were better learned on the farm and in the workshop than in the schools. The sentences written by such rude hands are nervous and tough, like hardened thongs, the sinews of the deer, or the roots of the pine.

— Henry David Thoreau

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