Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Best Method for You Is the Best Method for You

The best way for you to write is whatever best helps you write and finish the piece you're working on. And that can vary from writer to writer.

When I was editor of a weekly paper I wrote a family humor column and would sit down at a computer and do a month's worth at a time: four or five of them. (I already had my topics and angles in mind, and the column was very short.)

There was a columnist there who do his with a pen and yellow tablet, scratching out and rewriting, getting up in the middle of the night to consider a word or phrase. Neither of us could undertstand the other one's method. We agreed our own seemed best and the other . . . awful!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bad Tips for Writers 003

Don't waste your time trying to write
anything -- including a particular assignment --
until inspiration strikes, instantly filling you
with insights and emotions.

Make your motto: "I'm waiting for the Muses."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Will NaNoWriMo Work for You?

I've been reading up on National Novel Writing Month (which is November). It promotes writing a 50,000-word novel in thirty days.

(You can read more about it here.)

I know some people have done it, and will do it this year, but . . .

I suspect a lot of would-be novelists give it a try and quickly get discouraged because the goal is too big. Especially for someone who doesn't write a lot of words every day on a regular basis. (Like telling a wanna-be runner to start with a daily 10-K. For a month.)

I write a lot but 1,500-plus words every day for a month? No way.

The organizers do emphasize it's output not content that matters but . . .

A smaller, workable word count over a longer period of time will produce a better novel, and give you a more accurate experience of what it is to write one.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bad Tips for Writers 002

It's silly to be concerned about spelling errors
if your computer has a spell-check program.
Unless your software says a word is misspelled,
feel free to assume there's no problem.

Make your motto: "Spell check means
I never make miss steaks."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Don't Write Exactly What You Know

It can be a mistake to write what you know if you try to include exactly what you know.

I'll give you an example.

I'm working on a novel now that includes a scene in a small chapel. It would be easy to get off track by trying to describe that room as it truly is (at a local church near here) but the book doesn't need that. I can move a door or change the seats to pews or make a dozen other modifications if that's better for the story.

Being too exact, too precise, with reality can clutter up what you're really trying to do. And, as Willie and I point out in "How to Write Your Novel in Nine Weeks," if you try to get all the details 100 percent correct, you'll never finish the book.

The reality changes. Takes what's useful and make up the rest.

The sock and I talk about that in this podcast:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Writing Is Simple Not Easy

Writing isn't as complicated as some would-be authors make it out to be. But, on the other hand, it's not at easy as they want it to be. (As all writers want it to be.)

I was shocked -- and pleasantly surprised -- a few years ago when I was speaking at a grade school and I spotted a "How to Write a Story" poster on a classroom wall. The list had everything any writer needed, from outline/notes to "publishing."

There is no secret.

Whether you're 8, 18 or 80-plus, it's a matter of work. Day after day.

Rats! Little Willie says I should be more dramatic when I say that.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bad Tips for Writers 001

Never hesitate to use a really big or obscure word,
even if you aren't sure what it means. Really big
and obscure words tell the reader,
"Hey, I'm smarter than you are!"

Make your motto: "Shun those who eschew

Preaching and Practicing

I'm finding one of the drawbacks of this blog is I have to do what I'm telling others to do, especially would-be authors. (Whether fiction or non-fiction.)
This morning the first draft of a national column came before any blogging. (The monthly column's on family. For it.)
I suspect "national column" can sound impressive unless you've been writing one for a while. My wife and I have been doing one for 20 years and I've had other national columns going back another 10. I won't say the thrill is gone (I still like seeing my name in print, whether in ink or on a screen) but . . . the honeymoon is over.

Falling into a Good Rut

Falling into a rut can be one the best things you can do as a writer if it's a good rut.

What would that be?

1. Writing daily.
2. Not getting distracted by so many of the lovely distractions the Internet has to offer. (Not an infinite number but a lot!)
3. Ignoring the little inner voice that says, "I don't feel like writing. I'll wait until . . . " (I suspect most writers on a daily regimen don't "feel like writing" as they begin each day's word count.)
4. Writing first and editing later. (It's harder to write when you're tired than it is to edit when you're tired.)
5. Accepting the fact that writing takes effort and there's no way around that.