Writing Advice from Abelardo Castillo


Abelardo Castillo´s portrait, argentine writer.

Abelardo Castillo´s portrait, argentine writer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Abelardo Castillo (Buenos Aires, 1935) is an Argentinian writer, novelist, essayist, and playwright.  He is also well known for his short stories including “Ernesto’s Mother“.  An amateur boxer in his youth, Castillo worked as director of several literary magazines including El Escarabajo de Oro and El Ornitorrinco.  Following are a few tips from his book Ser Escritor (Being a Writer), compiled by “Mi isla al mediodía.”  The translation is mine.

Advice from Ser Escritor (Being a Writer)

  • Don’t try to be original or draw attention.  To achieve either you don’t need to write short stories or novels, all you need to do is step out on the street naked.
  • In general, it is just as difficult to write a great novel as it is to write a stupid one.  Effort, passion, pain, don’t guarantee anything.  It is unpleasant but true.  Don’t leave bed without meditating on this.
  • Not everything, because it happened to you, is interesting to someone else.  This goes for writing as well as conversation.
  • Someone else’s dreams are invariably boring.  Never forget that you own dreams are someone else’s to others.
  • From time to time you will remember this story.  Somebody once brought Anton Chekov a manuscript and asked him:

“What should I do, Master?  Should I publish it or throw it in the trash?

“Publish it,” said Chekov. “The readers will take care of throwing it in the trash.”


  • Don’t believe in writers’ maxims.  Including these.  What is attractive about a maxim is its brevity; in other words, the only thing that has nothing to do with the truth of an idea.

Other information about Abelardo Castillo

There is a good compilation of Castillo’s short stories in Spanish at Cuentosinfin.com

There is also a short film based on his story “El Marica”