Writing advice from Nic Pizzolatto

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I’m late to the True Detective party, but damn it’s a good show so better late than never. And I’ve officially reached the point of obsession with this show. I’ve researched what type of notebook Rust Cohle carries around (Moleskine?) and this True Detective reading list is currently my favourite thing on BuzzFeed. So, in light of this obsession, it’s not surprising that I’ve become interested in the show’s creator and writer, Nic Pizzolatto. Turns out, Nic wrote fiction (including these short stories) before writing True Detective. Since he’s the man behind one of the most popular shows on television, I thought I’d round up some of Nic Pizzolatto’s writing advice. If you’ve seen the show then you know what a gifted writer Nic is. So a few of his words of wisdom couldn’t hurt, right?

On the writing process:

“My process is whatever it takes to get the job done. A large portion of my waking life is spent writing in my head, taking walks, exercising, but always thinking, always trying to bring something into focus. I work long hours at the keyboard at some point, but I also write on Post-its and big Moleskine portfolios. I try to stay fluid and nimble, and I don’t tie myself to any set of ‘writing conditions’. Instead I’ve tried to train to write in any conditions. Just get it down.”

(Source: LitReactor)

On starting out:
“If you can do anything else, if you can see yourself doing anything else, you’re probably better off pursuing that. But if you can’t my advice is to read a lot and to really try to learn from the writers you admire. And understand too that there’s really no shortcuts to this. As smart and talented as you are, you’re still going to have to spend thousands of hours alone in a room mercilessly criticizing all your own perceptions.”

(Source: Simon & Schuster)

On going unnoticed:
“I don’t think art is about expression. I don’t think that’s its primary motive. The primary motivation is communion with your fellow human beings. So it’s very frustrating to make something and nobody notices it. If you put on a play and nobody comes to it, did you really put on a play? But you just keep going. You remind yourself that people have been doing this as long as there have been people. And your frustrations and disappointments are nothing new. And you go back to the wheel.”

(Source: The Daily Beast)

On what makes a good story:
“Authentic, vivid characters drive any story. After that, we look for refinements in language and detail, effective structure, the originality of the author’s imagination, etc. But I think it probably all starts with character.”

(Source: Men’s Journal)

On handling criticism:
“…writing towards what I consider an insubstantial criticism isn’t a good way to create.”

(Source: The Daily Beast)

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