You are working on a first draft and small wonder you’re unhappy. If you lack confidence in setting one word after another and sense that you are stuck in a place from which you will never be set free, if you feel sure that you will never make it and were not cut out to do this, if your prose seems stillborn and you completely lack confidence, you must be a writer.
-- John McPhee
I am an unashamed dinosaur; I still seek out a plot-driven narrative with a beginning, a middle and an end — the last reached after a steadily accelerating cadence. As to research, I eschew virtually all online fact searching because so much is either rubbish or inadequate. The old ways still work best. I seek out the expert steeped in knowledge of his subject and ask for an hour of his time. I usually secure everything I need and probably several extraordinary anecdotes that would never be on the Internet. The same applies to places — even hellholes like Mogadishu. It is a slog to haul the old bones across the world, but I could never have described Somalia from 6,000 miles away. The obsession with accuracy, deriving from my years in journalism, pays off. The readers seem to like it.
-- Frederick Forsyth
Before the Internet came along, most people rarely wrote anything at all for pleasure or intellectual satisfaction after graduating from high school or college. This is something that’s particularly hard to grasp for professionals whose jobs require incessant writing, like academics, journalists, lawyers or marketers. For them, the act of writing and hashing out your ideas seems commonplace. But until the late 1990s, this simply wasn’t true of the average nonliterary person.
-- Clive Thompson, Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better
Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.
-- Andre Gide