Why writers should do work other than writing

Labor can be a major source of inspiration. Plus, an account from a Kissinger speechwriter, embracing a messy workspace and creating your own narrative.

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Each week, Evan Peterson rounds up stories from across the Web that scribes of all stripes should check out. If you’re not writing from experience, writing about yourself or do not have an established writing space, you’re doing it wrong. Also, a Henry Kissinger speechwriter shows us that the profession hasn’t changed. Four stories from the past week:

Writing from working: You don’t need to be a full-time writer to find inspiration for stories. People who have 9-5 jobs doing something else might have an advantage. The Guardian highlights how a few writers have applied their experience to give their writing what Mark Twain called “the muscle, breath and warm blood” that experience provides. Novelist Hugh Howey says it’s the only way to create a story.

Try and fail and try again. Volunteer. Build things with your hands. Talk to strangers. Sleep on the street and sit in a tree and jump naked into a pond. This is the only way to learn to write. Everything else is learning to edit.

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