White Light/White Heat: Writing Tips from Jack London
|Jack London Was Hot!|
You wrote your story at white heat. Hell is kept warm by unpublished manuscripts written at white heat. Develop your locality. Get in your local color. Develop your characters. Make your characters real to your readers. Get out of yourself and into your readers' minds and know what impression your readers are getting from your written words. Always remember that you are not writing for yourself but that you are writing for your readers.
– Letter to Ethel Jennings, aspiring writer, 1915
• Don't quit your job in order to write unless there is none dependent upon you.
• Don't dash off a six-thousand word story before breakfast.
• Don't write too much. Concentrate your sweat on one story rather than dissipate it over a dozen.
• Don't loaf and invite inspiration: light out after it with a club, and if you don't get it you will nonetheless get something that looks remarkably like it.
• Set yourself a 'stint,' and see that you do that 'stint' every day.
• Study the tricks of the writers who have arrived. They have mastered the tools with which you are cutting your fingers.
• Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter, and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.
• And work. Find out about this earth, this universe ...