Thursday, January 18, 2007

Words from a Master

I'm reading the latest issue of The Writer magazine. They have been in the business for 120 years - which is amazing in itself - and to celebrate that anniversary, they are digging into their archives for some of their best writing advice.

This month's advice is from Phyllis A. Whitney who, at 103 years old, is one of the world's most beloved authors. She has been writing for more than 80 years. Stop and read that again. 80 years. I'm quite willing to listen to any advice she has to give.
And here's some from a letter she wrote to a young writer that appeared in the November 1961 issue:

"I am faced now with writing a book about Istanbul, and I haven't the faintest notion of how to go about it. The idea scares me to pieces. The one advantage I have over you is that I have been through this so many times before that I know I can do it. You can, too, but you won't know that until you buckle down and write a book. Believe me, you have what it takes. You are a writer..."

Now if a multi-published, bestselling author still gets nervous about attempting to write a book, then it's certainly ok if we do. But learning how to get past that nervousness is the key - it's what separates the writer from the wannabe.


  1. 103 years old! I had no idea!! And what great advice to hear on your birthday - thanks for a great post!

  2. Wow! 80 years of writing. I'll take her advice, too!

    Happy Birthday, Kelly!

    Thanks for sharing, Melissa. :)

  3. Truly inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Great post! I agree with Therese, truly inspiring!

  5. 103???? Oh my - and writing for 80 years. Too cool. Thanks for sharing her inspiring words. Love the pic :-)

  6. Great post, Melissa. Yes, sometimes writing puts the fear of God in me. It's nice to know other writers feel it, too.

  7. With that kind of track record (80 years!!) I'm in awe. I'm only on my third novel, which makes me feel like a complete hack next to this woman!

  8. I didn't realize she was still alive. I loved her stuff when I was younger. Pretty amazing.

  9. Ah, Phyllis Whitney! She and Victoria Holt were my two favorite writers when I was in junior high school. How could she possibly write for 80 years? I'm exhausted after less than two! :D

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