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Margaret Atwood On Writing Tips

  • January 29, 2015


  1. Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.
  2. If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.
  3. Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.
  4. If you’re using a computer, always safeguard new text with a ­memory stick.
  5. Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.
  6. Hold the reader’s attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don’t know who the reader is, so it’s like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What ­fascinates A will bore the pants off B.
  7. You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you’re on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.
  8. You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a ­romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.
  9. Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.
  10. Prayer might work. Or reading ­something else. Or a constant visualization of the holy grail that is the finished, published version of your resplendent book.
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10 Comments on Margaret Atwood On Writing Tips

  • Michael says:
    February 7, 2019 at 9:52 PM

    Great writing tips. Writing, true writing, is a craft just like an art and we always should strive to improve upon it.


  • Danielle M says:
    February 6, 2019 at 6:53 PM

    Great tips, I can see that you love writting for the way how you care about all the details and posible distractors.


  • Obalade Damilola says:
    February 5, 2019 at 8:53 AM

    Writing is never easy..it takes hardwork with passion..some people are just naturally good..but no matter how good you are ,their is always space for improvement


  • brainedet says:
    February 5, 2019 at 12:27 AM

    Great piece of advice, it really insightful and inspirational. This can really help a writer to succeed.


  • Rizzee Cerdeñola says:
    February 4, 2019 at 6:16 PM

    Writing is never easy and it is a passion. Let us all write from the heart. I love this woman


  • Johnson says:
    February 4, 2019 at 6:05 PM

    Atwood has always been an inspiration to a lot of writers. Her way of thinking is so refreshing.


  • June says:
    February 4, 2019 at 6:03 PM

    This is the exactly what I needed. I think I know how to get rid of my writer’s block now.


  • jolly555 says:
    February 4, 2019 at 2:10 PM

    The back exercise is for me. I get back pains easily these days when typing away on my PC. Will adopt some back exercises now


  • Grace K says:
    February 4, 2019 at 10:57 AM

    Great master peace of art. Good message delivered in poetic form, sinks deeply into the heart.


  • Julia Engström says:
    January 30, 2015 at 7:29 AM

    I love Margaret Atwood. Great advice about not whining:)


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