Writing Advice from C.S. Lewis

Clive Staples Lewis, commonly known as C.S. Lewis, was a novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, broadcaster, lecturer, and Christian apologist. 

“I would not know how to advise a man how to write. It is a matter of talent and interest. I believe he must be strongly moved if he is to become a writer. Writing is like a ‘lust,’ or like ‘scratching when you itch.’ Writing comes as a result of a very strong impulse, and when it does come, I for one must get it out.” (Taken from an interview with Lewis posted on CBN.com)

Writing Tips from C.S. Lewis (italicized portions are my own comments):

1. Turn Off the Radio
And I imagine any other disruption that takes your mind off the task of writing.

2. Read good books and avoid most magazines
To write well, fuel your imagination with quality books. Not every book that is a bestseller or trending is well written.

3. Write with the ear, not the eye
Read the sentence aloud and remove unnecessary words. Rambling sentences slow down the story.

4. Write only about things that interest you
Your writing will sound more genuine if you write what you know and have a passion about.

5. Be clear
Remember that readers can’t know your mind. Don’t forget to tell them exactly what they need to know to understand you.

6. Save odd and ends of writing attempts
Lewis had a habit of saving his unfinished work. In 1950 he retrieved a  page he’d written in 1940 and eventually developed it into The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first novel in The Chronicles of Narnia series.
I’ve found that one sentence can spark an entire story. Keep a notepad handy for “aha” moments!

7. You need a well-trained sense of word-rhythm, and the noise of a typewriter will interfere
Generally this isn’t too much of a concern with computers, but the act of writing a thought by hand, stimulates me to remember it and feels very elemental.

8. Know the meaning of every word you use
If I don’t know the meaning of a word, I type it into the Google search bar (and don’t forget to use spell check)!