Develop Your Relationship With Writing

Salman Rushdie

Lesson time 15:24 min

Salman discusses his approach to finding motivation, the value of experimentation, and his tips for working through writer’s block.

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Topics include: Writing Is Understanding Who You Are · Finding Your Drive · Redefining Writer’s Block as a Creative Opportunity · The Value of Experimentation ·Discovering the Story in Shalimar the Clown


- I find that when you're alone in your room with just you and the piece of paper or the computer screen, your mind works in a way that it doesn't work at other times. Because the act of writing opens the mind, opens windows in the head, which let in all kinds of stuff that isn't normally available to you. Out of that, you can make your story. When I was starting out, I-- I had a very bumpy start. You know, it really was by no means plain sailing. I mean, I left university at, you know, the age of 21, wanting to be a writer. And to be frank, I wrote a lot of garbage, you know. I wrote one, two, three novel length works that were never published. And-- and I'm now profoundly grateful that they weren't published, because they would have been deep embarrassments. And they would have affected my literary reputation very adversely. But I was-- you know, I was writing a lot. These are three quite extended-- like, 300, 400 pages in a couple of cases. You know, and they weren't good. And meanwhile, all around me was this generation of young writers who were finding their way very early, you know. Writers like Ian McEwen, and Martin Amis, and Julian Barnes, and Kazuo Ishiguro, and so on. It seemed to me that they knew what they were doing right from the beginning. And I was lost, in a way. And at a certain point, I understood that part of the reason why I was lost is that I had grown up in one culture, and I was living in another. And I didn't quite understand my relationship with either, either the culture that I had grown up in or the one that I was living in. And that I really needed to work that out for myself, you know. And in other words, to work out who I was, you know. Because if you're not clear about who you-- who you are, then-- then you're not clear about what-- about how to write. Because the writing should come out of your deepest self. What you are saying, essentially, in a book, is you are saying to the world, you're saying, this is how I see it. I see it like this. This is-- this is my take on things. And you want to feel that whatever it is that you've done will resonate with people. So I mean, I would say the essential judge can only be yourself. And it can be whether you feel that you've been as honest and truthful as you could be. One of the things I think you really need to be if you're going to be a writer is to have a real determination to be a writer. Put it like this. I-- I left university in 1968. Midnight's Children was published in 1981. That's very close to 13 years of learning how to become a writer that was-- and writing something that people want to read. So for me, it took me more than a decade of stumbling around in the dark in order to finally find my way. I mean, if somebody was to ask me now, would you be prepared to spend 13 years of your life trying to learn to do something without any guarantee that you will be any good at it at the end, you know, I would probably find that to be not doa...

About the Instructor

To the delight of readers across the globe, Salman Rushdie’s genre-defying novels have brought surreal and magical realms to life for decades. Now the Booker Prize–winning author teaches you the art and craft of storytelling. Learn how to draw from your own experiences to build vivid worlds, authentic characters, and complex plots. There are extraordinary stories that only you can write—start sharing them.

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Salman Rushdie

Booker Prize winner Salman Rushdie teaches you his techniques for crafting believable characters, vivid worlds, and spellbinding stories.

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