So, um, hi there, blog readers. How’ve you been?
Yeah, been a while. Sorry about that. I’ve been working on…something…which I can’t really discuss. And, really, isn’t that kind of a cool thing to say? Makes me feel like a literary 007. (Little known fact: Dr. John Dee, Queen Elizabeth I’s pet alchemist and part-time spy, used 007 as his personal cipher. Aren’t you glad you know that now?)
Even though it kept me from updating the blog of late, I do happen to like writing. I’d better — I’ve been a professional writer for 18-plus years now. Yes, Spacebuckler is my first novel, but I have a few business books to my credit, along with a lot of magazine articles and enough newspaper articles to paper the cages at the Bronx Zoo. So now that I’m fresh off my latest endeavor, I thought I’d share a bit about some of the things I’ve learned about writing.
You know that thing about how you have to be an avid reader to be a good writer? All too true. Now, that said, I am woefully behind in my fiction reading, and I’ve read less than a quarter of the books on NPR’s recent list of the top 100 best science-fiction and fantasy books of all time. But researching my alchemy-fueled historical space opera had me reading a lot of history, and I’ve found the quality of the writing in some of those books rivals that of many fiction writers. So it’s true. Gotta read.
You also gotta write. Now, having been a journalist for a large part of my writing career, I know deadlines and I write fast. Both of those things take organization and discipline. Stephen King famously writes every weekday, no matter what, and I think that’s important. Yeah, you might have an off day and realize that what you’ve written is pure dreck. But there’s likely something useful in that dreck, even if it’s useful only in identifying what doesn’t work. So write as often and as regularly as you can, even if you don’t feel like it.
And then revise. I did a whole blog post on the topic of revision, so I don’t need to go into it here. Just do it. That said, I would recommend you resist the urge to revise while writing a first draft. Get the draft down first, then go back. Otherwise, you’ll never get anywhere!
Finally, don’t forget to NOT write. Take time between drafts. And unless you’re successful enough to be a full-time novelist, remember that you have bills to pay and families who would like to see you now and then.
And that’s all the alleged wisdom I have for now. If anybody has other good writing advice, throw it in the comments section or give me a tweet!