5 Tips on Writing and the Writing Life from Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy, the insurance agent turned superpower thriller novelist, left behind a legacy that includes blockbuster books (over 100 million copies of his books in print), movies, videos games and a few tips on writing and the writing life.

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Tom Clancy April 12, 1947 – October 1, 2013

Tom Clancy, the insurance agent turned superpower thriller novelist, left behind a legacy that includes blockbuster books (over 100 million copies of his books in print), movies, even videos games. Although he didn’t set down a list of writing tips for posterity—or at least, if he did, it’s still stealth—through interviews and lectures Clancy offered advice that can be applied to any style of writing.

Tell the story.

“Fundamentally, I think of myself as a storyteller, not a writer.” What’s the difference you may ask? Instead of trying to impress critics with his literary pyrotechnics, Clancy said he told stories to “take people away from driving trucks or fixing toilets or whatever they do, away from their drudgery. That’s a good enough purpose for any man.” Clancy’s career really took off when a man not known for being a member of the literati, then-President Ronald Reagan, labeled Clancy’s first book “The Hunt for Red October” a “perfect yarn.”

Writing is like golf.

“A lot of people think [when you write] something mystical happens to you, that maybe the muse kisses you on the ear. But writing isn’t divinely inspired — it’s hard work.” Clancy’s advises writers to “Learn to write the same way you learn to play golf. You do it, and keep doing it until you get it right.” Continue reading “5 Tips on Writing and the Writing Life from Tom Clancy”