Some Great Advice From Brian Doyle…

Back in March I attended the Ohio University Literature Festival in Athens and I posted pictures and a few highlights of the event. As I was doing the great purge I spoke of yesterday, I also came across a handout that Brian Doyle had passed out prior to his lecture. Just to refresh on who Brian Doyle is, he was the author that brought tears to every eye in the room during his reading. He’s the author of many beautiful essays, my favorite being “Joyas Volardores” which you can find here He is a very spiritual, kind man and it shows through in his writing as well as his encouraging advice. I would love to copy, word for word, every line on this handout to share with you, but for fear of copyright infringement I’ll refrain. Hard as it is to decide, I will pass along to you only the highlights of what he shared with us that day.

1. Bleed. Sing. Stop thinking. Let Go.
2. Go ahead and lie. That’s what fiction is for-telling true stories sideways. Tell whoppers.
3. If you just start, if you just take an idea out for a walk, generally something good will happen.
4. (One of my favorites) Expect no money. Be happily surprised by small coins. (And I am, every time I get that little unexpected royalty check from Amazon.)
5. Style is only the delivery system for the story. Never think about your style. Run screaming away from style.
6. Jot. Scribble. Scrawl. Take notes. Journals, diaries, daybooks, notepads, email yourself, call yourself, send yourself texts. Leave yourself clues. Then get your ass to your keyboard as soon as you can and take the idea out for a stroll.
7. (Another favorite) For you young writers: get a job. Type fast. Learn to listen. Show up daily. Again: get a job.
8. The more you read the better writer you will be. Reading is hearing voices on the page.
And finally…
9. Stories are the only way to defeat time.
Brian Doyle, March 2014

And there you have it. Well, at least some of it. I will probably hang on to this handout until it’s falling apart. He was probably the most inspiring author at that event this year, even though I enjoyed them all. I highly recommend giving him a read and getting to know this wonderful author.


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