Zadie Smith on the Psychology of the Two Types of Writers
If you are a writer who is trying to create a novel, don’t miss this post on Zadie Smith’s two types of writer personalities. Smith delivered a lecture at Columbia University’s Writing Program in which she described writers as “macro-planners” or “micro-managers.” That and more on the mysteries of writing is captured in this morning’s dispatch from Maria Popova in Brain Pickings, her “cross-disciplinary LEGO treasure chest, full of pieces spanning art, science, psychology, design, philosophy, history, politics, anthropology, and more.”
It’s an insightful and fun read that made me laugh out loud when I realized that I fit the micro-manager profile.
Zadie Smith’s 10 Rules of Writing
- When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else.
- When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.
- Don’t romanticise your ‘vocation’. You can either write good sentences or you can’t. There is no ‘writer’s lifestyle’. All that matters is what you leave on the page.
- Avoid your weaknesses. But do this without telling yourself that the things you can’t do aren’t worth doing. Don’t mask self-doubt with contempt.
- Leave a decent space of time between writing something and editing it.
- Avoid cliques, gangs, groups. The presence of a crowd won’t make your writing any better than it is.
- Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet.
- Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.
- Don’t confuse honours with achievement.
10. Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand — but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied.