I’m re-blogging this invigorating and inspirational post by Hugh Howey – which was drawn to my attention by Ricardo over at Reedsy – simply because it IS so invigorating and inspiring. It looks as if comments are closed on the original post, but feel free to comment and discuss here…
Wasn’t that a great post? Don’t you feel inspired? I know I do – thank you, Hugh! Here’s how I have – or plan to- follow Hugh’s advice, and my thoughts:
Hugh advises that if you want to be a writer, these are ten rules to follow:
1) Make a long-term plan. I’ll confess to you now, that I don’t have a long-term plan as such; it’s more like a list of things I’d like to do, but in no particular order. Like:
- write my first novel – tick.
- write and publish a short story collection – tick. (I did that first)
- write something for film or television – I’m working on that.
So I’ll be working on the long-term plan. But mostly it will involve writing, and more writing. And then more writing. Books, short stories, scripts, blogs…
- I do this all the time. I devour books, always have done. I go through phases of reading different genres, but mainly: thriller/police procedural/detective mysteries, science-fiction, contemporary romance. Years ago I read a shed-load of Catherine Cookson, and dozens and dozens of natural history and autobiographical works. The one thing I have a problem with is ‘How To’ text-books…
- I do this all the time, too. Sometimes in my head, or in the form of emails, letters, blog posts, and pages and pages of dialogue, scenes that come to me out of the blue without a story attached… I have thousands of documents on my portable hard-drive, some of which I may not have looked at in years. I came across one the other day that I literally couldn’t remember writing at first…
- I probably shouldn’t admit to this, but driving to or from work is when this happens most. The hard part is remembering it until I get a chance to write it down. If I could set up my Bluetooth so that I could mutter into my mobile as I drive along, that would solve the problem…
5) Learn to fail.
- I’m working on that!
6) Plot trumps prose.
- I agree – if the writing is ‘pretty’ but the story doesn’t engage…. I work hard at that, too. I find it helps to study other stories, and ask myself if I would have written it differently, and if so, why?
7) Live fully and cheaply.
- That’s a WiP!
- Most of my networking to date has been online – because I can fit more in! It’s fun and you meet the most interesting people. You never know when you might be able to help them, or vice-versa.
9) Write Great Shit.
- I can’t disagree with this – if you don’t engage your reader quickly, they likely won’t buy your book. Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ feature is the opportunity to hook them. I always read the sample, and often know within the first paragraph or so if I am going to hit that magic ‘BUY’ button. If it’s a great premise, but the hook isn’t there… as Hugh says, pull out the stops to engage your reader, and do it as soon as possible, even if it means starting half-way through the story. I had several beginnings for ‘The Methuselah Paradox’ – a department store fire, the moment my protagonist realises that he has caused a death… and a scene in which someone very close to him is has maybe days to live… in the end I went with a scene which shows us who he is in his workaday life, showing the reader who he is. I’m not convinced I chose the right opening, as it happens… (see point 5.) As Hugh says, just keep writing…
10) Find your voice.
- Agree 100% with Hugh on this. Have I found my voice? Maybe not yet – sometimes I think I have, then I’ll find myself struggling again. I think it is really important to be telling the story you want to tell, and not what other people think it is -or should be- about. If you find yourself listening to other people’s versions of your WiP, I think it could be a sign that you haven’t nailed the story, or perhaps that you are telling the wrong one. Or perhaps it’s just that you don’t have the confidence yet… but when you do find your fingers struggling to keep up with your thoughts as you write, there is nothing quite like it!