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Rediscover WRITING (Part 2)

This is the continuation of writing lessons from Haruki Murakami I posted on August 30, 2010.

6. Talent is a must.

No matter how much enthusiasm or effort you put into writing, if you totally lack writing talent, you can forget about being a writer. Murakami says this is more of a prerequisite than a necessary quality. The problem with talent though, is that you can’t control its amount or quality.  Talent has a mind of its own and wells up when it wants to, but once it dries up, that’s it.

7. Focus. Focus. Focus.

For Murakami, focus is the ability to concentrate your limited talents on whatever’s critical at the moment. Without that, you can’t accomplish anything of value, while, if you can focus effectively, you’ll be able to compensate for an erratic talent or even a shortage of it. Murakami sits three to four hours at his desk every morning and just focus on writing – he doesn’t see anything else, he doesn’t think about anything else.

8. Concentrate.

If you concentrate on writing three to four hours a day and feel tired after a week of this, you’re not going to be able to write a long work. Focus and endurance are different from talent. Murakami writes that you’ll naturally learn both concentration and endurance when you sit down every day at your desk and train yourself to focus on one point. You might not move your body around, but there’s grueling, dynamic labor going on inside you. A writer puts on an outfit called narrative and thinks with his entire being.

9. Write as you think about things.

Murakami shares that as he writes, he arranges his thoughts. Rewriting and revising takes his thinking down even deeper paths. No matter how much he writes, he never reaches a conclusion. And no matter how much he rewrites, he never reaches the destination. He tries to present a few hypotheses or paraphrase the issue or find an analogy between the structure of the problem and something else.

10. It is crucial that your writing attains the standards you’ve set for yourself.

Failure to reach that bar is not something you can easily explain away. When it comes to other people, you can always come up with a reasonable explanation, but you can’t fool yourself. For Murakami, writing novels and running full marathons are very much alike. Basically, a writer has a quiet, inner motivation, and doesn’t seek validation in the outwardly invisible.

11. It is important to take a break – sometimes.

But during deadlines, you have to tell yourself who’s the boss. When Murakami’s training for a race, he makes it clear to his muscles what’s expected of them. He maintains a certain tension by being unsparing, but not to the point where he burns out.


How do you write?

Do you agree with Murakami’s writing lessons? Why? Why not?

And here’s something to think about:

“I think certain types of processes don’t allow for any variation. If you have to be part of that process, all you can do is transform – or perhaps distort – yourself through that persistent repetition, and make that process a part of your reality.”

Haruki Murakami

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running


Written by Lynda C. Corpuz

September 12, 2010 at 6:33 pm

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