Writing Advice from Sherman Alexie

The Top 10 Pieces of Writing Advice I’ve Been Given (Or That I’ll Pretend Were Given to Me)

  • Don’t Google search yourself.
  • When you’ve finished Google searching yourself, don’t do it again.
  • Every word on your blog is a word not in your book.
  • Don’t have any writing ceremonies. They’re just a way to stop you from writing.
  • Turn your readings into events. Perform and write with equal passion.
  • Read 1,000 pages for every one you try to write.
  • In fiction, research is overrated. But that means readers will write you correcting all of your minor biographical, geographical and historical errors. If you like, make those corrections in the paperback, but don’t sweat it too much.
  • Don’t lose the sense of awe you feel whenever you meet one of your favorite writers. However, don’t confuse any writer’s talent with his or her worth as a human being. Those two qualities are not necessarily related.
  • Subscribe to as many literary journals as you can afford.
  • When you read a piece of writing that you admire, send a note of thanks to the author. Be effusive with your praise. Writing is a lonely business. Do your best to make it a little less lonely.

—Sherman Alexie
—from Tin House

Call for Submissions: Truck 2014

Handwriting sunset

UPDATE: Please note that theme #1 means a poem can be on any topic and of any type…it just needs to be produced (or reproduced) by hand or by typewriter or in some other physical form. At this level it is about making some connection between the digital and physical existence of a work. Themes #2 and #3 delve into the visual and further into the physical. Theme #4 goes meta.

I’m guest editing Truck next month (December). So I want your work: poems, prose poems, visual poems, flash fictions, letters, found poems, art works…as long as it fits December’s theme, “Words: By/In Hand”, meaning:

I. Work of any form and on any topic that is presented in your own hand, typewritten, or that in some other manner shares of the physical production: drawn in sand, folded in origami alphabets, whatever.


II. Work that fuses words and visuals with some element done by hand: visual poems, blackout poems, erasures, vizpo that isn’t wholly digitally created.


III. Work that says “forget your stupid rules” and surprises me with something inventive in format or layout.


IV. Something of any form that addresses or invokes the theme itself: handwriting, correspondence, the physical making of word works. Here’s your chance for poems about writing poetry, letters about letters, and other meta-works that break workshopping rules.

Questions and submissions (image files; I can handle just about any format) to: chris+truck@chrislott.org by DECEMBER 29.

If you want to send PHYSICAL WORK that I can scan/photo, let me know and I’ll tell you where to send it (I’ll need to receive the piece in Seattle by DECEMBER 21 at the latest).