Douglas Noel Adams (11 March 1952 – 11 May 2001) was an English author, screenwriter, essayist, humorist, satirist and dramatist.
Adams once wrote this “General Note” to himself, apparently to be read and re-read when the going got tough:
Writing isn’t so bad really when you get through the worry. Forget about the worry, just press on. Don’t be embarrassed about the bad bits. Don’t strain at them. Give yourself time, you can come back and do it again in the light of what you discover about the story later on. It’s better to have pages and pages of material to work with and off and maybe find an unexpected shape in that you can then craft and put to good use, rather than one manically reworked paragraph or sentence. But writing can be good. You attack it, don’t let it attack you. You can get pleasure out of it. You can certainly do very well for yourself with it . . . !
The following quotes are taken from The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time (2003).
On Not Giving Up
“First of all, realize that it’s very hard, and that writing is a grueling and lonely business and, unless you are extremely lucky, badly paid as well. You had better really, really, really want to do it. Next, you have to write something.”
“Writing is easy. You only need to stare at a piece of blank paper until a drop of blood forms on your forehead.”
“The fact is that I don’t know where ideas come from, or even where to look for them. Nor does any writer. This is not quite true, in fact. If you were writing a book on the mating habits of pigs, you’d probably pick up a few goodish ideas by hanging around a barnyard in a plastic mac, but if fiction is your line, then the only real answer is to drink way too much coffee and buy yourself a desk that doesn’t collapse when you beat your head against it.”
Don’t give up. Writing takes time, and hard work, and most of all, persevering. You won’t get where you need to be going without putting in the time, and writing well — writing anything at all, in fact — will take a lot of proverbial banging your head against a wall.
On Avoiding Art
“Having been an English literary graduate, I’ve been trying to avoid the idea of doing art ever since. I think the idea of art kills creativity.”
This quote came from an interview with Adams about the release of Starship Titanic, a videogame that he wrote. Adams says the above to mean that you shouldn’t focus too much on the limitations that others put on your work. The idea of ‘making art’ according to someone else means living up to someone else’s expectations of it, and failing by default. Don’t be afraid to do your own thing.
“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”
Douglas Adams was notorious for tuning in work late, and writing quickly. As Terry Jones recalls, Adams wrote Starship Titanic to get a publisher off his back about a book advance he was given seven years prior. The lesson here is to take your time. Although, if you’re not a genius like Adams, perhaps it’s still better to be reliable than to turn in flawless work.
Douglas Adams enjoyed going to the gym. However, on May 11th, 2001, he suffered a fatal heart attack just after finishing his workout at the gym. He was riding his exercise bike.
” I think the only thing that might conceivably have made Douglas laugh was the thought that some of us now have an excuse never to set foot in a bloody gym ever again, because that’s where he died.”