Walter Benjamin … thirteen essentials of the writer’s technique
Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) was a German-Jewish philosopher, sociologist, literary critic, translator and essayist. He was born in Berlin and spent most of his life in Germany. He left there in 1932 as a result of Hitler’s rise to power and then lived mainly in France. In August 1940, he obtained a travel visa to the US. Tragically, his plans went awry and he took his own life rather than risk being delivered into Nazi hands.
He offered thirteen essentials of the writer’s technique which are summarised below …
“Avoid haphazard writing materials. A pedantic adherence to certain papers, pens, inks is beneficial. No luxury, but an abundance of these utensils is indispensable. Keep your notebook as strictly as the authorities keep their register of aliens. The more circumspectly you delay writing down an idea, the more maturely developed it will be on surrendering itself. Never stop writing because you have run out of ideas. Literary honour requires that one break off only at an appointed moment (a mealtime, a meeting) or at the end of the work. Fill the lacunae of inspiration by tidily copying out what is already written.”