In this post, Writers Write explores writing advice from Simone de Beauvoir, the French writer, intellectual, political activist, and feminist.
About Simone de Beauvoir
Simone de Beauvoir was born 9 January 1908, and died 14 April 1986.
Simone de Beauvoir wrote novels, essays, biographies, and memoirs. She is best known for She Came to Stay, The Mandarins, and The Second Sex.
The French writer and feminist was ‘a member of the intellectual fellowship of philosopher-writers who have given a literary transcription to the themes of existentialism’. She is known primarily for her treatise The Second Sex, which has become a classic of feminist literature.
7 Bits Of Writing Advice From Simone de Beauvoir
1. Write To Stay Sane
‘A day in which I don’t write leaves a taste of ashes.’ ~Appreciation, The Washington Post
Writers write to find out what they think, what they believe, and what they want to communicate. Many writers cannot go a day without writing and de Beauvoir was no different.
Write to clear your head. Write to process life. Write to stay sane.
2. Be Prepared To Shock
‘The writer of originality, unless dead, is always shocking, scandalous; novelty disturbs and repels.’ ~The Second Sex (Referred to in The Collected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick)
If you are going to write in an original way, you risk shocking readers. People are used to reading in certain genres and styles.
Try something different. Be prepared to be novel in your approach and wait for the reactions.
3. Let Your Ideas Percolate
‘I willingly trust myself to chance. I let my thoughts wander, I digress, not only sitting at my work, but all day long, all night even. It often happens that a sentence suddenly runs through my head before I go to bed, or when I am unable to sleep, and I get up again and write it down.’ ~Force of Circumstance
Writing isn’t always done in front of the keyboard or on a piece of paper. Let yourself think about what it is you want to say. Agatha Christie famously said, ‘The best time to plan a book is while you’re doing the dishes.’
Let your ideas percolate. It’s all part of the creative process. You’ll often find that what you write after a while is better than anything you jot down quickly.
Also, always have a notepad handy to jot down those ideas.
4. Writers Write
‘Writing… is a profession that can only be learned by writing.’ ~The Prime of Life
If you want to be a writer, write. It’s that simple and that difficult.
You should learn the rules so you know how and when to break them. Take a course. Read books on the subject. Then write – every day if possible.
Develop a writing ritual or routine.
5. Be Obsessed
‘If you are writing something in which you are really involved, you don’t even need to think about it any longer.’ ~Alice Jardine’s Interview with Simone de Beauvoir
If you know your subject matter, whether it is a novel or a work of non-fiction, you will be able to better write it.
If you’re writing a novel, get to know your characters, your settings, and your plot. If you do, the words will flow.
6. Write From Experience
‘Only a woman can write what it is to feel as a woman, to be a woman.’ ~Alice Jardine’s Interview with Simone de Beauvoir
If you can write from experience, do it. If you know what it feels like to be a woman with a story only she can tell, do it.
The same goes for any other profession, or life experience. Use it if you have it. It will feel more authentic if you do.
7. Live A Writing Life
‘There has to be a certain relationship between the life and the writing style, and that is really a problem.’ ~Alice Jardine’s Interview with Simone de Beauvoir
If you don’t start making writing part of your life, it becomes more difficult to embrace.
The Last Word
We hope these bits of writing advice from Simone de Beauvoir help you with your writing.
Source for image: The Paris Review
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TIP: If you want help writing a book, buy The Novel Writing Exercises Workbook.