Writing Advice from C.S. Lewis

I spent my college years thinking about Hamlet, thinking about Richard Burton, listening to the Beatles, and standing in line for tickets to the Royal Ballet.

There were hours and days spent hanging out with my friends – wonderful women (the college wasn’t co-ed back then) who patiently put up with my manias (and loved the Royal Ballet and the Beatles as much as I did).

Somehow I earned a degree, so I must have squeezed in some college work along the way. But my mind and heart were elsewhere. 

Obsessing about Hamlet meant that I eventually stumbled across a magnificent essay by C.S. Lewis, the British novelist, theologian, and literary critic: The Prince or the Poem? I remember reading it – my head reeling – and feeling the book slip out of my fingers and drop to the floor.

(A side note: Lewis belonged to the Church of England, and my college was Roman Catholic. Lewis’s very orthodox theological writings were listed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (The Index of Prohibited Books). To their credit, the college library owned all of them, but they had to be kept in a locked bookcase. I found them in my hometown library and read them anyway.)

I’ve read just about everything Lewis ever wrote.

C.S. Lewis and James Hillman (I discovered him twenty years later) are the two men who – more than anyone else – shaped my thinking. (I’ve read just about everything Hillman ever wrote too.)

There are probably long neural highways in my brain with signposts on them like LEWIS I-42 North and HILLMAN K-16 East. For better or worse, I wouldn’t be the person I am without them – and, of course, Burton. ♥

But today’s topic is writing. I just came across a wonderful little online article about Lewis: “Five Powerful Writing Tips from C. S. Lewis” by Nicole J. Bianchi. Click here: https://link.medium.com/FtpgAappw5

Here’s my favorite tip:

5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

I only wish I could write as well as Lewis did.

British novelist and literary critic C.S. Lewis

                         C.S. Lewis


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