Louise Erdrich’s advice for anyone writing a novel

Interviewer: A journalist once asked you what advice you would give someone trying to write a novel. You said, “Don’t take the project too seriously.” Is that what you would say today?

Erdrich: I think I meant that grand ideas kill first efforts. Begin with something in your range. Then write it as a secret. I’d be paralyzed if I thought I had to write a great novel, and no matter how good I think a book is on one day, I know now that a time will come when I will look upon it as a failure. The gratification has to come from the effort itself. I try not to look back. I approach the work as though, in truth, I’m nothing and the work is everything. Then I write to save my life. If you are a writer, that will be true. Writing has saved my life.