The Writer's Technique in Thirteen Theses: Walter Benjamin's Timeless Advice on Writing
Geege Schuman stashed this in Creativity
THE WRITER’S TECHNIQUE IN THIRTEEN THESES
- Anyone intending to embark on a major work should be lenient with himself and, having completed a stint, deny himself nothing that will not prejudice the next.
- Talk about what you have written, by all means, but do not read from it while the work is in progress. Every gratification procured in this way will slacken your tempo. If this regime is followed, the growing desire to communicate will become in the end a motor for completion.
- In your working conditions avoid everyday mediocrity. Semi-relaxation, to a background of insipid sounds, is degrading. On the other hand, accompaniment by an etude or a cacophony of voices can become as significant for work as the perceptible silence of the night. If the latter sharpens the inner ear, the former acts as a touchstone for a diction ample enough to bury even the most wayward sounds.
- Avoid haphazard writing materials. A pedantic adherence to certain papers, pens, inks is beneficial. No luxury, but an abundance of these utensils is indispensable.
- Let no thought pass incognito, and keep your notebook as strictly as the authorities keep their register of aliens.
- Keep your pen aloof from inspiration, which it will then attract with magnetic power. The more circumspectly you delay writing down an idea, the more maturely developed it will be on surrendering itself. Speech conquers thought, but writing commands it.
- Never stop writing because you have run out of ideas. Literary honour requires that one break off only at an appointed moment (a mealtime, a meeting) or at the end of the work.
- Fill the lacunae of inspiration by tidily copying out what is already written. Intuition will awaken in the process.
- Nulla dies sine linea ['No day without a line'] — but there may well be weeks.
- Consider no work perfect over which you have not once sat from evening to broad daylight.
- Do not write the conclusion of a work in your familiar study. You would not find the necessary courage there.
- Stages of composition: idea — style — writing. The value of the fair copy is that in producing it you confine attention to calligraphy. The idea kills inspiration, style fetters the idea, writing pays off style.
- The work is the death mask of its conception.
13. Blew my mind! Think about it!
I don't get it. "The work is the death mask of its conception."
Sounds deep but I don't get it.
What do you interpret it to mean?
A death mask preserves what was once alive, in this case the spark of conception.
Whoa. That IS deep.
I do like the line "No day without a line."
It's one of the things I like about PandaWhale. I get to practice writing every day.
"The work is the death mask of its conception." To me, it means that as you wind down your project, as you get ready to push the button, declare it complete, ship it out... it's left your soul. It will be fixed in time. It will stand before humanity--it will no longer be the fluid energy of creation that it was while it was stirring inside you.
Beautifully and masterfully put.