9 Great Quotes About Writing from Steve Almond

Illegible notebook page with handwriting

Steve Almond is an author of both fiction and non-fiction. He also teaches creative writing workshops, including one called Short Stories that Sing, which I took in 2009 through the Miami Writers Institute. Here are a few great quotes from that class.

“Sad and funny often travel together. . . Back off and recognize the humor of the moment. Humor is not the opposite of sadness. It’s a cloak.”—On humor
“Your job as a writer is to listen well. . . Everyone telling a story is inevitably circling back to the things that obsess them. . . If you let people talk long enough they will tell you what they want to tell you. They will reveal themselves.”—On listening
“No one lives happily ever after. We live complicatedly ever after.”—On nuance
“Include what matters early. Two questions we always start a story with are, who do we care about and what do they care about?—On the foundations of a story
“Write as many details as you need to tell the story. Then prune back. . . Take out details people have seen before.”—On choosing the right details
“You don’t always know whether you’re writing well or badly, even in the middle of your career. Sometimes you write out of desperation. ”—On why we write
“There are things about yourself that you might just not want to reveal. . . yet. Keep building your muscles when it comes to revealing yourself on the page.”—On getting closer to the truth
“Decide what you are willing to write about fearlessly. You can’t write delicately. You can’t write scared.”—On writing and fear
“No time at the keyboard is wasted.”—On getting the work done

If you’re a teacher who would like to teach a humor-writing unit in your classroom, you can find a classroom-ready unit plan on Teachers Pay Teachers.

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