The Write Idea


Writing the Truth

Filed under: Quotes — ljcollins @ 2:56 pm
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And now for some thoughts about writing from Brenda Ueland:

I saw in [my students’] writing how whenever a sentence came from the true self and was felt, it was good, alive, it infected one no matter what the words were, no matter how ungrammatical or badly arranged they were. But when the sentence was not felt by the writer, it was dead. No infection.

This helped me because it showed me there is no sense in writing anything I don’t feel; or working up a lot of bogus feelings, because nobody will be one bit impressed or affected. But, as I told the people in my class, you must not think of a feeling as necessarily a violent and terrific thing–“harsh, dry sobs,” and so on. Boredom is a feeling, lassitude is a feeling, sleepiness is a feeling, as well as rage.

And so, from now on, if you want to write, for example, about a man who is suffering from boredom, just quietly describe what your own feelings are when you have been bored. This is all you have to do. Don’t say the boredom was “agonizing, excruciating” unless your own boredom was, which is doubtful.

That is all you have to do to infect, to convince your reader, to make him think it is a good description, because it seems true.

Happy writing!


  1. I write physician bluegrass fiction. My stories are fiction, but they are true.

    Dr. B

    Comment by Dr. Tom Bibey — 06/20/2010 @ 3:47 pm | Reply

  2. Nice to meet you, Dr. B. Fascinating description of your work. Yes, I’d say whether writing is true or not has nothing to do with whether it’s fiction or non.

    Comment by ljcollins — 06/21/2010 @ 5:39 pm | Reply

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