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1. When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else.
2. When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.
3. Don’t romanticize your “vocation.” You can either write good sentences or you can’t. There is no “writer’s lifestyle.” All that matters is what you leave on the page.
4. Avoid your weaknesses. But do this without telling yourself that the things you can’t do aren’t worth doing. Don’t mask self-doubt with contempt.
5. Leave a decent space of time between writing something and editing it.
6. Avoid cliques, gangs, groups. The presence of a crowd won’t make your writing any better than it is.
7. Work on a computer that is disconnected from the Internet.
8. Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.
9. Don’t confuse honors with achievement.
10. Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand, but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied.
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Profession: Graduate Student
Been a volunteer at MW since: 2013
What I do at MW: Workshop Instructor
Favorite authors: Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin and Amiri Baraka
Last book I read: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Book I liked as a kid: As a little kid, anything by Shel Silverstein. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. As a teen, Native Son by Richard Wright, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka and One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kesey.
Quote I like: “Writing for me is control. Nobody tells me what to do. It’s mine. It’s free. It’s a way of thinking. It’s pure knowledge.” – Toni Morrison
Gosh, speaking of volunteering, check this.