rules for writing

Various authors rules for writing, some serious, some not so much.

Plus, science supports procrastination, um, taking a walk.

Getting ready to go off the grid for a dozen or so days, so will likely not be blogging for a bit.


the habit of writing

Ron Charles, Washington Post Fiction Editor, tweeted this article on the habit of writing this morning. I was talking with my accountability partner yesterday about writing, realizing that when he asked me about Steinbeck’s letters, JS influenced me greatly from the beginning. I took to heart Steinbeck’s advice to work a lot of different jobs in order to get a feel for people’s lives. Temp work is perfect for this. I worked a day on an assembly line, in photo studios, San Diego’s tech companies, the big entertainment conglomerates in Hollywood, etc. I have seen a VP not understand her team wanting to go home after 10 hours at the office. Her reply: why would I want to go home and pretend to like Candyland and pretend to lose to a 3 year old? The worst part of that scenario for her was the losing (shudder).

The other point we discussed is to outline or not to outline. I don’t. It would take all the fun out of it. For me, it’s the discovery. I’d rather go back and deal with structural issues than give up the joy of not knowing what’s going to happen next. As you enter that stream of mini-decisions that make up the flow of writing, well, that’s the high right there. Yesterday, that process also allowed a scene to connect back with something earlier and solve a problem. Wasn’t anything I did consciously, but there’s nothing like it when it does happen.

Writing, exercise, sports: Just do it.

mental toughness

Dani Shapiro has a few thoughts on what it takes to keep going as a writer.

Congratulations to the New Orleans Saints! Second half of the SuperBowl was pretty good. I am about to go into football withdrawals – at least there is still the Combine (Feb 24 – Mar 2) and the Draft (April 22-24) to look forward to.

Another rainy day in L.A. Just had a thunderstorm and hail move through. Another good day to write. What’s your excuse again? Yeah, thought so,  get to work! Athletes have something to teach us about mental toughness and how to keep going when it gets hard.

closing in

Getting close to finishing my novel. As I accelerate toward the end, I’ve noticed I’m writing a lot of dialog and not a lot of much else. I think it’s like sketching and will go back in to fill in the details. I also have to go back and look at the stakes. That’s easy to overlook, but it’s essential for the reader to know what’s at stake for the character and to run across unexpected moments.

It’s a rainy day, so there are fewer distractions. Speaking of, take a look at this article about the dangers of multi-tasking, particularly if you are having problems with procrastination (close that game of Spider Solitaire!). Bottom line, given the choice between doing the easy thing and the hard thing, we will opt for the easy thing. Or as Sir Joshua Reynolds said, “There is no expedient to which man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.”

Or writing.