Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Only "How to Write" Lesson You'll Ever Need

michaelsnyder's AvatarI’ve met a lot of folks asking eager, “newbie” type questions. And as much as I hate anything that reeks of “the answer” or “ten easy steps” or any kind of “secret ingredient,” I do indeed know most of the answers, all of the steps, and many of the secret ingredients.

I realize I should be charging big, big bucks for this. But I’m feeling kind of charitable today. So here goes…

#1 You must love to read. Every minute that you’re not reading something should include at least fifteen seconds (or more) of wishing you could be reading. (Listening to audio books counts.)

#2 You must want to write more than you want to be a writer (or want to have written).

#3 You must write. A lot. More than you think you need to. A million words is a good starting point.

#4 You must find time to read more and write more…and then find time to do even more of both.

#5 You must learn to juggle total confidence with abject humility. (It helps to be both fearless and terrified too.)

#6 If publishing is your goal, get a new goal. Writing better is the only goal. Don’t write for markets or toward trends. Don’t write for your spouse or your enemies or your mother. Write for the page; that’s it.

#7 You must actually care…care enough to read and to write while everyone else is watching TV…care enough to change your schedule and get your work done…care enough to fake confidence when you need it and stare down fear when you can’t…and you must care more about the words on the page than what other people think about them. If you don’t care, no one lese will. And if you do care, most people still won’t. You have to care enough to overcome all that nonsense.

#7.5 Do NOT take my word for it.

Extra credit: Learn the art of napping. Unless you sell a million copies…and you probably won’t…you’re going to need it. And if it bums you out that you probably won’t sell a million copies, go back to step one and start over.

Extra extra credit: Despite that last sentence, be prepared to have to go back and start over every single day. I certainly do.


Michael Snyder resides in Tennessee, works for a living, plays the guitar, and writes some of the most unique books on the market today. If you're a genre-locked reader, you may not see the appeal in Mike's novels. But if your mind is open to the heroism of the average Joe and the beauty of the plain Jane, if quirky, flawed characters steal your heart faster than Harlequin hunks and biker babes, you're in for a treat.

My Name is Russell Fink and Return Policy, Mike's first two masterpieces. The third is in edit.

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