Advice to Writers

INSCAPE

What advice would you give to a poet just starting out?

AGI MISHOL

1 think first of all, if you are a young poet, you should read a lot—see how masters did it and learn. Writing goes together with reading. Don’t hurry to workshops, but find a poetry friend whom you trust, someone who sees what you can become, not just what you are now Remember that it is a long way with lots of tests, but I believe that if you are a real poet your destiny will lead you.

INSCAPE

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers on ways to get started?

PAT MADDEN

Everybody’s curious about something. I think that curiosity is the number one necessary characteristic—to walk around looking for interesting things. Writing is a way of sustaining curiosity and thought and pulling it out. Often we’re satisfied with “hmm” and we go along with our lives. And we probably have to do that most of the time because we’re busy with important things, but in the essay you take those “hmm”s and you convert them into something big. You start to investigate experiences and how they connect to that idea, look for quotes and for what others have said in the past, and find those connections. I’d say that half my time writing is spent reading.

INSCAPE

Could you impart any words of wisdom to aspiring writers?

LOUISE PLUMMER

If you want to be a writer, then write. If you have no confidence, take writing classes and see where you come out. Are you as good or better than others in the class? Most writers have to spend time learning their craft. Don’t get so caught up with writers’ conferences and networking that you end up knowing everything there is to know about writing, but you still don’t write. You have to sit on your behind and write. There is no magic. There is no other way. Then you have to find someone who will publish what you write, but there’s no point thinking about it if you haven’t written anything to sell.