"My answer is that I start with the trees and keep right on straight ahead. . . . How do you die, write, live, sicken, heal, despair, rejoice? You are lucky if you don't start at the end, at abstraction. If you start at the beginning, at the specific, the seen, the real . . . There is no how to it, no how do you write, no how do you live, how do you die. If there were, nothing would live in the deep and very delicate chain of life. It is the doing that makes for continuance. It is not the knowing of how the doing is done. . . . A writer writes, and if he begins by remembering a tree in the backyard, that is solely to permit him gradually to reach the piano in the parlor room upon which rests the photograph of the kid brother killed in the war. . . . How do you write? You write, man, you write, that's how, and you do it the way the old English walnut tree puts forth leaf and fruit every year by the thousands. . . . If you practice an art faithfully, it will make you wise, and most writers can use a little wising up."
I don't think Saroyan's answer is quite what the insecure young writer is looking for . . . but I think it's the one he or she needs to hear.