Advice To Writers from James Baldwin

Every morning, I get some wonderful snippets of advice from well-established writers and here’s the one for today:
“The hardest thing about writing, in a sense, is not writing. I mean, the sentence is not intended to show you off, you know. It is not supposed to be “look at me!” “Look, no hands!” It’s supposed to be a pipeline between the reader and you. One condition of the sentence is to write so well that no one notices that you’re writing.” JAMES BALDWIN

When I first started writing, I thought I had to use those long fahncee words I had heard when I was a kid going to school in Scotland. For some reason, over there in Britain, people seemed to speak so much better than we did in the USA. Maybe it was their accents that impressed me so much as a child. Well, I eventually became a journalist in Philadelphia and found out that the readers appreciated my use of common ordinary words a lot more than when I used those big long words. I think in the beginning of that career, I was just trying to impress the readers because I wasn’t yet confident as a writer. Today, I love the simple words but occasionally, I can’t help myself and toss in one of those big words I learned (also as a kid) when I was studying for the National Spelling Bee contests I entered every year. In fact, I’ll never forget how to spell “daguerreotype” which was the word that cost me the California championship when I was in sixth grade. I had forgotten that hidden “e”. Worse yet, my “boyfriend” at the time got it right. Grrrrrr!I guess if I were to offer any advice, myself, I’d say, I agree with Mr. Baldwin…keep focusing on the pipeline to the reader and avoid too many of those long convoluted words.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *