Our Missing Hearts Author Celeste Ng Writes Fiery Prose | ReThinking with Adam Grant Podcast Summary

How Celeste Ng writes fiery prose | Free Podcast Summary

Our Missing Hearts Author Celeste Ng Writes Fiery Prose | ReThinking with Adam Grant

In this episode of Re:Thinking with Adam Grant, Celeste Ng, the New York Times bestselling author, shares her journey to becoming a successful writer, her unique writing process, and the influences that have shaped her work.

From her early days of doubting her career path to her current success, Ng offers a candid and insightful look into the world of writing.

Writing as a Tool for Understanding

Unlike many writers who use writing as a tool to communicate their ideas, Ng uses writing to make sense of the world.

She often starts from a place of not understanding something and uses writing as a tool to figure it out.

This approach adds a layer of exploration and discovery to her writing process.

You notice all kinds of stuff that’s that’s like your rough draft right that’s all the raw material and then in any project that you’re working on you have to select and so for me that is a process of editing. – Celeste Ng

The Role of Imitation in Learning

Ng discusses the role of imitation in her early writing journey.

By imitating the rhythm and style of works she admired, she was able to explore different writing techniques and eventually develop her own unique voice.

This process is likened to learning to draw or write cursive, where tracing someone else’s work is an important part of skill development.

The Importance of Reading in Writing

Ng reflects on her experience of doing an MFA in creative writing, where she learned how much of writing is reading.

Reading books she wouldn’t ordinarily have picked up and learning from other writers greatly contributed to her growth as a writer.

This underscores the importance of reading widely and learning from a variety of sources.

The Challenge of Titling

Ng shares her struggle with titling her own work, often relying on others for help.

She believes that being too close to one’s own work can make it difficult to see the larger picture and come up with a fitting title.

This highlights the importance of gaining different perspectives in the creative process.

The Joy of Discovery in Writing

Ng discusses the concept of becoming ’emotionally numb’ as one becomes more knowledgeable about a field, such as writing.

She suggests that maintaining a sense of joy and discovery is key to avoiding this.

Being surprised by new ideas and techniques in writing is one of the joys of reading, even as a professional writer.

Art as a Break from Routine

Ng talks about the importance of art in breaking people out of their daily routines and cognitive structures.

She uses the example of street art and guerrilla art, which can surprise and engage people because it appears in unexpected places.

This element of surprise is a powerful tool in art and storytelling.

If you cut everything that you love, that is your darling, then you have nothing, or else you have a piece that you hate. And neither of those things is good. – Celeste Ng

Maintaining Curiosity

Ng emphasizes the importance of maintaining curiosity as a writer.

She believes that part of her job as a writer is to linger on small, seemingly unimportant details, much like a toddler discovering new things.

This approach allows her to keep her writing fresh and engaging.

The Role of Collaboration in Writing

Ng shares her experience of having her novel, ‘Little Fires Everywhere,’ adapted into a TV show.

She learned that writing a novel and writing for TV are two very different processes.

Writing a novel is a solitary process, while writing for TV is a collaborative effort involving a group of writers, actors, set builders, and others.

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