Clive Barker on writing

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Barker

If you like your fiction dark and disturbing, you probably like Clive Barker—one of our finest purveyors of horror and disturbing fantasy. His Books of Blood remain, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest collections of chill-inducing stories out there. If you’ve never read his stuff, but you’ve seen the movie “Hellraiser”, based on his novella The Hellbound Heart, you have a rough idea of what’s in store for you. All that said, here’s some great advice he gave in a 1995 piece for Lost Souls Magazine. He stresses the importance of discipline and sticking to your routine, and being true to yourself when writing.

Whether you are a good or bad writer is an irrelevancy when you first begin. What’s important is that you write, you get up in the morning and you say, “I’m going to treat this like a job and I’m not going to just do this when I feel like it. I’m going to really get to work on making this the best I can make it, and work hard to achieve something”. You can’t sit around waiting for inspiration to strike like lightning, cause you’ll wait around for a long time. Maybe once every blue moon a piece of lightning will strike, but most of the time you’ll wait around twiddling your thumbs. What you have to do is just get on with it, and write whatever comes out and not worry over much about whether the punctuation is right or the spelling is right or even if the order of the words is right, but just get on with it.

You have to go after, seek after the things which are truthful to you. And I mean truthful. If you don’t believe in Christ, then don’t have a hero whipping out holy water when it suits him, because you’re not telling the truth about what you believe about the world. If you don’t believe that the image of Christ is ethicasy in the world, then don’t have your hero use it in such a way. All you doing is accessing a series of cliches from somebody else’s work. If you’re gay, write about gay characters. If you’re straight, write about straight characters. If you’re straight and confused, write about straight and confused characters. If your passion is about painting and football, write about painting and football. Write about your mother, write about your father, write about things you know, and then let your imagination lurk on those things and develop them into something new and fresh even for you. Surprise yourself, astonish yourself, and tell the truth.

You can find this quote–and other writing tips on the official Clive Barker website.

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