Good Advice for Philosophers

• The reader is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator. Jonathan Franzen
• Do not place a photograph of your favourite philosopher on your desk, especially if the philosopher is one of the famous ones who committed suicide. Roddy Doyle
• Cut (perhaps that should be CUT): only by having no inessential words can every essential word be made to count. Diana Athill
• Only bad philosophers think that their work is really good. Anne Enright
• Prayer might work. Or reading something else. Or a constant visualisation of the holy grail that is the finished, published version of your resplendent article or book. Margaret Atwood
• Do change your mind. Good ideas are often murdered by better ones. Roddy Doyle
• Marry somebody you love and who thinks you being a professional philosopher’s a good idea. Richard Ford
• It's doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good philosophy. Jonathan Franzen
• Read widely and with discrimination. Bad philosophy is contagious. PD James
• Reread, rewrite, reread, rewrite. If it still doesn't work, throw it away. It's a nice feeling, and you don't want to be cluttered with the corpses of articles which have everything in them except the life they need. Helen Dunmore
• Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you finish this article? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the article. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die. Anne Enright
• Find your best time of the day for writing and write. Don't let anything else interfere. Afterwards it won't matter to you that the kitchen is a mess. Esther Freíd
• Do it every day. Make a habit of putting your observations into words and gradually this will become instinct. This is the most important rule of all and, naturally, I don't follow it. Geoff Dyer
• Don't wish ill on your colleagues. Richard Ford
• Never complain of being misunderstood. You can choose to be understood, or you can choose not to. David Hare
• Remember you love philosophy. It wouldn't be worth it if you didn't. If the love fades, do what you need to and get it back. AL Kennedy
• Remember philosophy doesn't love you. It doesn't care. Nevertheless, it can behave with remarkable generosity. Speak well of it, encourage others, pass it on. AL Kennedy


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