Personal Heroes

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A Wrinkle in Time is one of my all time favorite books. I have no idea how many times I have read it. I remember reading it as a child and being overwhelmed with how great it was. I devoured all of Madeleine L’Engle’s books, but A Wrinkle in Time is still my favorite.

I was reading my new Writer’s Digest magazine today and a short story contest winner quoted Madeleine’s Newberry acceptance speech and it really hit home. She said, “Unless a writer works constantly to improve and refine the tools of his trade, they will be useless instruments if and when the moment of inspiration, of revelation does come. This is the moment when a writer is spoken through, the moment that a writer must accept with gratitude and humility, and then attempt, as best he can, to communicate to others.”

It helps me to think about daily writing in this way. If you are writing daily and refining your skills, then you’ll be ready to do your best work when the lightning strikes and you get those one of a kind ideas. I have written the last two days and that feels good. It hasn’t been my best work to date, nothing too brilliant, but there are words on the paper. I need to keep showing up at the page and refine my skills.

In doing some more research tonight for this post, I found another quote that moved me. More sage advice from one of my personal heroes.

I have advice for people who want to write. I don’t care whether they’re 5 or 500. There are three things that are important: First, if you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair. And second, you need to read. You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader. It’s the great writers who teach us how to write. The third thing is to write. Just write a little bit every day. Even if it’s for only half an hour — write, write, write.

It’s true that great writers teach us how to write and I’m thankful to have Madeleine L’Engle as a teacher.

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2 responses »

  1. Hi – I’ve just stumbled on your blog and will be subscribing from now on. That Madeleine L’Engle quote is amazing! thanks so much for sharing! I am already doing 2 of the 3 things you advise writers to do, but on the reading – do you think it matters what a writer reads? I rarely read books, but I devour newspapers, magazines, and blogs. If you have time, or have done a related post, I’m curious what your opinion is. 🙂

    • Hi! I’m so glad you found me and the blog :-)Thanks for subscribing too. I thought that quote was amazing as well and had to pass it along.

      I think that all reading helps because you’re seeing the world through someone else’s eyes and perspective. It seems that we can embark on writing our own words in a new way after we get inspiration from another writer.

      I think it also is good to read things similar to the stuff that you want to write. Is your writing geared toward journalism or personal essay? If so, I think you’re reading the exact right things!

      Thanks for the question. You gave me a topic to dig into for my next blog on Sunday 🙂

      Take care,

      Mary

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