W. B Yeats on writing.

‘Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking’. W. B Yeats

This was tweeted by ‘Bigsmoke’ (@bigsmokewriting) on Twitter (other social Media sites are available, actually not sure if anyone else does a Twitter-like site, but that is not important right now).

Now I replied saying ‘that’s all very well for him as he had a good hammer.’ Tres drole.

But what he’s saying is that you just have to work hard. That’s saying a mouthful. We all know, I think, how we have to apply ourselves – draft and redraft, edit, edit and cut back.

The books and the websites with writing advice and tips are good – really useful at times. But a lot of it you should know, it should come through the effort. It does help of course and it can short cut the process, but you have to sit down and write and get better through the unconscious process. The unknowable process.

And yes, part of this – the message comes across over and over – is that its going to be blood sweat and tears all the way (unless you are one of the handful of naturals, gifted individuals whose innate abilities chime completely with this thing we call a novel).

Perhaps that’s what he was getting at – William Butler – when he wrote that you can choose the life or the work. And what Hemingway meant when he said pithily ‘a writer applies himself, he applies the seat of his pants to the seat of his chair.’

I think that’s ok. I like a long slog. It’s a good job….

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1 Comment

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One response to “W. B Yeats on writing.

  1. Donyale

    Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” evidence suggests that significant success in any endeavour is the result of the appropriate/ “correct” childhood/ family/ social circumstances + prevailing socio-economic conditions + 10,000 hours of practice. We get good by doing. We have something to say by experiencing. We either have the empathy to articulate what we intend to say in a way that invites other people into the experience, or we do not. No way around it. We write because we must, and writing is the only way we become good at writing. After 10,000 hours, we must thank heavens for dysfunctional families and the advent of e-publishing, which massively increases our chances, as new writers, of (a) securing a deal and (b) making a living. It’s a good job indeed.

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