George Saunders shares his writing tips



I think it'd be the overcoat by Nikolai Gogol it's funny and sad and it's I think it's the way that God actually thinks of us when he if he in fact does I had a a mentor named Tobias Wolff and I just got into grad school on a kind of a funny story and I went up to him at a party maybe possibly drunk on my shirt and I said you know I just want you to know I'm not writing that funny crap anymore I'm writing real literature now and he just looked at me and gave me the best piece of advice was don't lose the magic and so I said yeah of course not and then I went off and lost the magic for seven years pretty much anywhere I have a writing shed in New York that I go to it was it was actually a toolshed and my wife very sweetly remade it and now the family joke is that I'm the only tool in the tool shed but I can write on an airplane or anywhere I my first book was written actually at work and I had this whole drill where I would my desk was as far away from the door as I could get it and I'd put a story up on one screen and then my work on the other and I even had a series of postural adjustments so I'd be writing with excitement and if somebody walked in I'd hit shift f3 and kind of look as depressed as I could so they'd think I was working I will take an idea from anywhere my theory is you you try to at least I try to get the smallest possible idea that's not all created with ethics or philosophy or thematic intention just some little tidbit that's funny so I had a story called si oak that was it came out of a incident in the mall I was in Syracuse New York walking behind these two young women and they were talking very excitedly and I kind of leaned in and I heard the one say I know I told him but you know kick his grandma's dance and her friend said I know and I thought wow that's like poetry that's some new kind of poetry so I kind of stopped him through the mall and when I got home I just tried to imitate the way they were speaking I had about a three page sort of riff on that which after a lot of revision became this the story see oak so ideas are actually I think it's a little bit like in biology that idea of the seed crystal you start with the smallest little thing and then by reworking it it actually will kind of grow outward very organically so I find you don't have to worry too much about ideas at the beginning but you have to find some little fragment that excites you for a reason that you can't explain

2 thoughts on “George Saunders shares his writing tips

  1. George, I love your writing style. I am working on something and I am now finding myself reading your work again and wishing I will write as well as you…. one day.
    🙏

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