Writers on Writing: One Must Resist the Urge to Throw Away Pen and Paper

Elie Wiesel, writers on writing series

Sometimes, when we are stuck, reading about writing can be a good solution to the literary block that grips us. Luckily for me, The New York Times has provided an archive of their column “Writers on Writing” – http://www.nytimes.com/books/specials/writers.html

If you are looking for some inspiration today, or even just a good laugh, it can be found in this archive where diverse writers like Joyce Carol Oates, Kurt Vonegut Jr., and Jamaica Kincaid share their own thoughts about their craft.

One of my favorites is Elie Wiesel’s piece entitled, “A Sacred Magic can Elevate the Secular Storyteller.” Wiesel speaks candidly about going from a child who thought of writers “as clumsy, lazy and frankly useless,” to claiming his spot as one of the most revered storytellers of our time.

There is nothing more comforting than finding out that an author that you respect so highly, struggles and doubts just as hard as you do. Wiesel shares one of these formative instances in his own column: “The next book brought me my first negative review. Why deny it? I was miserable. I wanted to go from newsstand to newsstand and buy up every single copy of the daily containing the unkind evaluation of my novel. Later I learned to cope with nastiness better than with praise.”

Wiesel’s words are both soothing and terrifying all at the same time. He is a writer like anyone else in his process and his pains, though exceeds even my wildest dreams for my own writing success. But as I sit and wallow in this self-doubt and fear, the ever-wise Wiesel is there to comfort me again, leaving me with a piece of parting wisdom.


“one must resist the urge to throw away pen and paper”

So whenever I am feeling confused or lost on my own writing path, I turn to one of these authors, whether it be a perennial favorite, or one who is unknown to me. From their pains I wring my comfort.


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