W. R. Raleigh

How to become an author

Letters to a young writer, 1920

The Hangings,
Ferry Kinksey, near Oxford
9 Oct. 1920

Dear Sir,

It is a part of my business to help people here learn to write. Perhaps I can help them, a little, in two or three years. So what can I do for you? Most efficient help is detailed and is given on actual work done. No general maxims will make a writer.

Hours in the air, and nothing else, make a flying man. I advise you to write, but not for writing’s sake. Write what you have seen, or known, or what you want to say. Then revise it and correct it.

I am sorry I cannot read the first half of your signature, which (like most signatures written by that egotist, man) is written more for the writer’s satisfaction than for the reader’s information. But I hope this will find you.

I cannot possibly undertake to criticise work by correspondence, but I hope you can get someone at hand to help you.

Yours very truly,
W. R. Raleigh

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