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Matt Zoller Seitz’s Advice to Young Critics

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If you know me relatively well, you know that my love for Matt Zoller Seitz, or more so the brilliance that comes out of his mouth (fingertips?), is somewhat explosive–he’s one of the few public figures I would unabashedly stalk if he fell into my vicinity. So I began drooling immediately at the sight of his “Advice to Young Critics” article, which is a must-read for anyone who wants to write or does write in any capacity, though it also offers some great guidance for people in other creative fields. My favorite point is below, and you can (and should) read the full list here.

9. Just write, damn it. I believe that ninety percent of writer’s block is not the fault of the writer. It’s the fault of the writer’s wrongheaded educational conditioning. We’re taught to write via a 20th century industrial model that’s boringly linear and predictable: What’s your topic sentence? What are your sections? What’s your conclusion? Nobody wants to read a piece that’s structured that way. Even if they did, the form would be more a hindrance than a help to the writing process, because it makes the writer settle on a thesis before he or she has had a chance to wade around in the ideas and inspect them. So to Hell with the outline. Just puke on the page, knowing that you can clean it up and make it structurally sound later. Your mind is a babbling lunatic. It’s Dennis Hopper, jumping all over the place, free associating, digressing, doubling back, exploding in profanity and absurdity and nonsense. Stop ordering it to calm down and speak clearly. Listen closely and take dictation. Be a stenographer for your subconscious. Then rewrite and edit.

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