How to Be a Successful Writer

The mantra for writers is: Write a lot, read a lot and listen deeply.

Posted Mar 31, 2016

domas / morguefile
Source: domas / morguefile

If you want to write: Write a lot, read a lot and listen deeply.

When I read, I mark passages I like with a post-it notes. (I can’t write in books, as I did when I was a student. Now they are my sacred texts.)

I type quotes I like onto my computer, as when I read Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, in 2014:

Page 23 – “It reminded him of slicing a yam with a newly sharpened knife, the easy perfection in every slice.”

“Her oval face was smooth like an egg”

Page 32 – “Standing by the railing, looking at the tall lamps that lit up the paths below, so bright that the swimming pool looked silver and the hibiscuses and bougainvillea took on an incandescent patina over their reds and pinks…”

The quotes remind me of the importance of metaphor and simile to bring alive our writing. Like slicing a yam with a newly sharpened knife or her oval face as smooth as an egg.

We relate to these lines, have a sense feeling and memory, more than we would to lines like “It was easy to slice the yam with the knife.” Or “Her face was smooth.” I can feel the knife slicing through the yam, picture the oval face. I know what it feels like to slice through a yam with a sharp knife and what the smooth shell of an egg is like.

Similarly, I see the swimming pool with its silver sheen, see the incandescent patina over the reds and pinks of hibiscuses and bougainvillea.

Prompt: What books have you read that affect the way you write?

Copyright (c) 2016 by Laura Deutsch