Southern Festival of Books
This weekend I met Clyde Edgerton and got to ask him about his practices for writing. Our interaction was one of many joys I found at the 29th Annual Southern Festival of Books (2017)!
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…
Clyde Edgerton: 8 Practices for Writing
I’ve summarized the eight things Clyde Edgerton told us about his practice of writing. Great advice for all writers!
- Write in the morning. Six days a week for three to four hours. “Hard to do that with three kids in the house!”
- Revise or edit at other times of the day.
- Writing retreats and leave from teaching can be useful.
- 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.”)
- 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.”
- Layer the writing projects, including both fiction and non-fiction. “As one project is finishing, another one is pulling me in.”
- Write a rough draft as quickly as possible and let it speak back to us.
- Writing comes from the gut, the heart, the unconscious. Be an artist to feel what is (not) working.
photo/video credit: Leisa Hammett