Image via WikipediaTranslated from Andre Gide's The Journals of Andre Gide, Vol. III: 1928-1939.
The great secret of Stendhal, his great shrewdness, lay in writing spontaneously.
His thought charged with emotion remains as lively, as fresh in color as the newly developed butterfly that the collector has surprised as it was coming out of the cocoon. There we find that element of alertness and spontaneity, of incongruity, of suddenness and nakedness, that always delights us anew in his style. It would seem that his thought does not take time to put on its shoes before beginning to run.
This ought to serve as a good example; or rather: I ought to follow his good example more often. One is lost when one hesitates.
The work of translating, for this, does a disservice. Dealing with someone else's thought, it is important to warm it, to clothe it, and one goes seeking the best words, the best turn of expression; one becomes convinced that there are twenty ways of saying anything whatever and that one of them is preferable to all the others. One gets into that bad habit of dissociating form from content, the emotion and the expression of the emotion from the thought, which ought to remain inseparable.
To become a writer I write every day. Since English is my second language, when I write essays I consult Mary Duffy's Sentence Openers.
When I write fiction (novels or short stories) I consult Toolbox for Writers