Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Wisdom from the Master

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On the way home from France today, Germany’s Top Husband played us Tim Ferris podcasts including this lovely one with Paulo Coehlo. Here are some jewels that spoke to me on the subject of writing:

  • On walking: “Walking is for me, my way of thinking, my way of meditating. It is not that I am thinking, but in a kind of trance, totally connected with the present moment.”
  • On what writing means to him: “What I do is to have pleasure, to have fun, to have social responsibility towards my readers, my self and the world where I live.”
  • On the writing process: “I go into a tank and I can only leave this tank when I have finished the book.”
  • He takes notes at night to empty his head so that he can sleep, but the next day the notes are “totally useless”
  • On capturing ideas: he does not capture ideas, but the book “that wants to be written” makes itself clear to him
  • On starting: “When you discover the first sentence, behind this first sentence is a thread that takes you to the last sentence.”
  • “When you write a book, as it is written in The Alchemist, you connect, you connect to the soul of the world, you connect to this energy that I call inspiration”
  • “If you want to capture ideas, you are lost because you are not going to live your life, you are going to be capturing ideas. You are going to be detached from the emotions that you need to live fully. You are going to be an observer and not a human being that is living his or her life … I strongly encourage writers not to think about writing every time they do something. Forget notebooks, forget taking notes. Let what is important remain.”
  • On tools: “I use Word; that is all.”
  • On stories and story archetypes: “There are only four stories: a love story between two people, a love story between three people, the struggle for power and a journey.”
  • On style: “Don’t try to innovate. You can innovate on Twitter, Facebook, mobile, but not in storytelling. Storytelling is pure, it is the essence, since the dawn of time and it is magical … It’s like fashion. Style is the dress, but the dress does not dictate what is inside the dress. What counts is the person inside the dress, not the dress itself.”
  • On simplicity: “Keep it simple.Keep it simple. Trust your reader. He or she has a lot of imagination. Don’t try to describe things. Give a hint and they will fulfill this hint with their own imaginations.”
  • On acceptance: “Writers want to please other writers. They want to be recognised by academia, by the system. Forget about this. Who cares, you know? You should care to share your soul and not to please other writers … This is a weakness.”
  • On getting stuck: “You are fighting with me, book? Okay, I will sit here and not leave you alone until I have found my way out of this crossroads. And then it may take ten minutes, it may take ten hours, but if you don’t have discipline enough, you don’t move forward.”
  • On research: “If you overload your book with research, you are going to be very boring to yourself and to your readers. Books are not here to show how intelligent and cultivated you are. Books are here to show your heart, to how your soul, and to tell your friends, your readers, you are not alone.”

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

One thought on “Wisdom from the Master

  1. I love this post. Insightful, funny, well curated. Thank you, Charlotte!

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