Writing advice from Umberto Eco

Umberto EcoFinchè un’idea che hai in testa non viene messa sulla pagina non puoi capire se hai un filo logico.

Until the idea you’ve had in your head gets placed down on the page, it’s impossible to determine if it has a logical thread to it.

-Umberto Eco (1932-2016)

The great Italian novelist, Umbert Eco, died last month. Eco is best known for his first novel, the international best seller The Name of the Rose. I loved this novel, and read it in English translation long before I spoke Italian. Eco’s obituaries in the newspapers have been running excerpts of The Name of the Rose in Italian, so I see I’ll have to reread in the original version.

I love this writerly advice from Eco (above) that I read in these days.

Many of us who love to write can appreciate this advice. Only once we start getting our ideas down on the page, are we able to flesh them out, see if the ideas work or if they should be scrapped for new directions, get a better idea if our characters should be re-imagined.

I’m glad to see that a great writer like Umberto Eco felt the same about the creative process. So fellow writers, here’s to getting those daydreams down on the page. Happy writing to all!


  1. Ishita on March 4, 2016 at 7:41 am

    What a brilliant advice!

    • kimberlysullivan on March 4, 2016 at 9:06 am

      Yes, he was a brilliant author, so I’m more than happy to follow his writerly advice! Buon weekend, Ishita.

      • Ishita on March 4, 2016 at 11:24 am

        Buon weekend to you too, cara!

  2. evelyneholingue on March 6, 2016 at 3:30 am

    How fortunate you are to have read Eco in Italian. I read The Name of the Rose in French when it was published, years before I moved to the US. It’s called Le Nom de la Rose. What a great novel! And what a great writer.
    He’s so right about his advice. Ideas are easy, putting them on the paper is another story.

    • kimberlysullivan on March 8, 2016 at 9:06 pm

      It is a fabulous novel, isn’t it, Evelyne? True about putting ideas on paper being the real way of hashing things out. That’s when you truly see if things are working, and if not, how to fix them. Hope you’re enjoying a good writing winter!

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