Saturday, June 04, 2011

Tips on writing from 23 brilliant authors

Steve Silberman of Wired fame has posted a wonderful piece over at PLoSBlogs about his effort to actually write a book. It is not the same as writing a short story or a 4000 word feature piece for Wired. His wonderful narrative ends with a collection of tips from 23 amazing authors like Cory Doctorow, David Crosby, Josh Shenk and more.

A sample from Sylvia Boorstein, author of Happiness is an Inside Job:
  1. Do not open email until 5PM on any weekday or other day when i expect to be writing much of the day.
  2. Do not read other people’s work on the same subject. That might be hard for you, since you are collecting research data, but I say very little about what other people have said or thought. They’ve already said or thought it.
  3. I am VERY selective about having other people read it as I go along other than my editor, and that only when I have enough written to feel secure that I have found my voice.
  4. When I do not like how what I’m writing is sounding, I quit. I leave the computer. I do something else, like cook soup. I “hear” what I am about to type before I type it and if it is not sounding like me naturally talking, I know i am not clear or balanced enough to go on.
  5. I do not write from the beginning to the end. I write in the order that particular parts take form in my mind and I enjoy mulling them over… I mull and mull and imagine I am explaining them to someone and then I write them down. I have the order in mind, so I write whatever part is bubbling energetically in my mind, print it out (always) and begin a stack on THE BOOK on a corner of my desk into which I can add pieces (in their proper order) as they get written and so I have a visible proof at all times that something is happening.
  6. I take the due date for the first draft EXTREMEly seriously., like everything depends on that day. it makes the project energetically alive for me, like a James Bond five-minutes-and-fifty-two-seconds until the whole world blows up movie and even if the draft is finished a week early I push the SEND button just after 12AM on the day it is due. Theatrical, I know, but I learned it from a friend of mine whom I admire as being a fine writer who prides himself on doing that.

Happiness Is an Inside Job: Practicing for a Joyful Life

1 comment:

Miss Good on Paper said...

This sounds really interesting. I love reading advice from other writers like this--especially when it is such helpful advice!

Thanks for sharing.
-Miss GOP