As college students we think we know it all sometimes. I’ll admit it…I know more than my professors and my parents and any other authority figure. Or maybe I would just like to think I do…

The know-it-all situation is fairly common in middle and high schools if my memory serves me correctly. Students may not like what you have to say and odds are there will be times when they definitely don’t want your advice however well-intended it may be. Even though we may not always like to admit it, there are some (ok, many) things we can learn from those who have gone before us. The same goes for students of any age.

That is why I feel it is important to look at writers who have been there and are still there when it comes to both the writing process and writing for publication. These experts know what it’s like to be rejected, turned away, have writer’s block, and think they know better than someone else. It is important for students to have examples to look to when it comes to any kind of writing.

During a book-reading interview with the Deseret Morning News, Pulitzer-prize winning author, Marilynne Robinson, was asked about advice she would give to writing students and writers in general.

“Young writers should seek out their passions and stick to them…It was very exciting to me, writing poetry,” she said. “But I realized at one point that I was bad at it.”

Since finding her niche in novels rather than poetry, Ms. Robinson has published two works: one, her most recent, Gilead and Housekeeping her Pulitzer prize winning book with a 25 year space between the two. In my opinion, Ms. Robinson is a great example to writers who feel that they may never find their most powerful way to write. Good writing doesn’t have to come in mass volumes with multiple genres and styles tapped into. It just comes from inspiration and feeling strongly about what you are writing about. In the article Ms. Robinson “advised aspiring writers to follow their interests and not worry about prizes, or even publication, while writing”. For her the process and the and feeling that came with writing was so much more important than pushing yourself for that elusize prize at the end of the tunnel.  

“”I feel much more as if novels happen to me than a motivation (which) causes me to write them,” she said.

I agree with her. When trying to write for a specific audience or simply to win something,  the pressure involved sometimes leaves little room for honest, good writing. A reader can know when an author is just plugging away trying to make it to the end of the book instead of taking time to make the story and characters come alive. Passionate writing is real writing. And that is good advice.

Link to article