The Best Life Advice from William Faulkner

Today marks the anniversary of the birth of legendary Southern author William Faulkner, whose works, as we probably don’t have to tell you, still rank among the most important novels of our age. Though he didn’t much like to speak about his personal life, the author did have a great many things to say about the practice of writing — and by extension, the practice of living. Here are some of Faulkner’s most poignant suggestions for writers, artists, or anyone looking to live life to the fullest.

“Read, read, read. Read everything —trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.” – Statement at the University of Mississippi, 1947

“So, never be afraid. Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion, against injustice and lying and greed. If you, not just you in this room tonight, but in all the thousands of other rooms like this one about the world today and tomorrow and next week, will do this, not as a class or classes, but as individuals, men and women, you will change the earth.” – Address to the Graduating Class of University High School, Oxford, Mississippi, 1951

“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”