Today I remember the letter Kurt Vonnegut wrote to a group of students with some amazing writing advice. I read the letter because one of my favorite websites, Letters of Note, unearthed it this week. Visit this great website to read all sorts of letters written by famous people.
Kurt Vonnegut wrote perhaps the best encouragement I’ve read in a while. He tells students to write–not for money or fame–“but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside of you, to make your soul grow.”(underlining his)
As an assignment, Vonnegut tells students to write a poem and to work very hard at it. He instructs writers not to tell anyone and not to show anyone. Instead, he tells the writer to rip it to shreds and discard it. Then, he writes, “You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem.”
I love that he reminds us to write for the pure pleasure of it and that the act of writing is its own reward. Although I think writing happens best in community, I do agree that writing helps us become who we are. It grows us.