5 hot writing licks from Keith Richards

If you haven’t read the Rolling Stones guitarist’s autobiography, time is still on your side. For now, here are five takeaways, because sometimes, you get what you need.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

I finally got around to it last month.

Anyway, a few things surprised me: Richards was shy around women. He was a choir boy and a Boy Scout. Apparently, he got addicted to heroin because he hated fame. Most surprising were his sophisticated thoughts about writing. Here are five writing takeaways from Keith Richards:

1. Learn from others.

When people ask me how to become better writers, I start by suggesting they read more and read more mindfully. At this advice, they often look at me quizzically, as if to say, “It’s that simple?” There’s nothing simple about it. Reading takes time, and reading mindfully, longer. We all learn by emulating those who went before us.

Here’s how Richards describes his relationship with his masters:

You were supposed to spend all your waking hours studying Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson. That was your gig. Every other moment taken away from it was a sin.

Writers can just change the above names to Truman Capote, Harper Lee, Ray Bradbury, Toni Morrison (and many, many others).

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.