writers on writing

writers on writing

Here is an assignment I’ve given my students for years. Take any ten years of your life, reduce them to two pages, and every sentence has to be three words long. I’m strict about this—not four words, not two. Three words long. These can be sentence fragments, but you can’t do stuff like “I went out/to the store.” It’s a terrific assignment, if I do say so myself. Among other things, it forces you to choose. It forces you to leave things out. Learning what to leave out is not the same thing as putting in only what’s important. Sometimes it’s what you’re not saying that gives a piece its shape. And it’s surprising what people include. Marriage, divorce, love, sex, all that can fall away and what you take up precious space with is sleeping on grass, or an ancient memory of blue Popsicle juice running down your sticky chin.
Abigail Thomas

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