Clyde Edgerton: 8 Practices for Writing

This weekend I had many joys at the 29th Annual Southern Festival of Books!

On Sunday afternoon, I met renowned and delightful Southern author of ten novels, Clyde Edgerton. He read from his current work and told stories. He even sang a little. This scratched an itch I’d been feeling since seminary, when I first read Walking Across Egypt. (To my utter amazement he even read from my book, Anatomy of a Schism, when he started his talk. That’s another post!)

At the end he took questions. I asked about his daily or weekly writing practice. He had been sharing generously about his process of using everything in life to create dialogue and build stories. I wanted to know how he puts in the daily work. Here is what he told us…

Posted by Leisa Hammett on Sunday, October 15, 2017

I’ve summarized the eight things Clyde Edgerton told us about his practice of writing. Great advice for all writers!

  1. Write in the morning. Six days a week for three to four hours. “Hard to do that with three kids in the house!”
  2. Revise or edit at other times of the day.
  3. Writing retreats and leave from teaching can be useful.
  4. Live with the characters in a string of writing days and see where they are going. (Lee Smith tells about writing the last sentence and spending three years writing a book to lead up to that ending. “I’m not the kind of writer who plans out the whole book.”)
  5. Look for time and energy to write. “I can’t wait to get up and start a scene and see what the relationships are between the characters.”
  6. Layer the writing projects, including both fiction and non-fiction. “As one project is finishing, another one is pulling me in.”
  7. Write a rough draft as quickly as possible and let it speak back to us.
  8. Writing comes from the gut, the heart, the unconscious. Be an artist to feel what is (not) working.

photo credit: Leisa Hammett