“People say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?’ I say, they don’t really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they’re gonna do it. Those people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.”
“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”
Kari-Lise shared this quote with me today; it was too good not to post here. It’s solid advice from an incredibly prolific artist. So, what are you going to do? Wait around for the lighting to strike or are you going to show up and get to work? In the end, it’s up to you.
“If you’re waiting for the perfect moment, you’ll never write a thing because it will never arrive. I have no routine. I have no foolproof anything. There’s nothing foolproof.”
I cannot tell you how many people I know who talk and talk and talk about writing, and then spend their days picking away at excuses why they cannot write. They don’t have the right tools. They don’t have enough time. The weather isn’t right. They ran out of coffee. The excuses are endless. The trick, as Atwood says so eloquently, is recognizing that it’ll never be the right time. You just do and you keep doing until you’re done.
For years Stephen King has preached a much different approach to writing than other master writers. He doesn’t outline. He doesn’t write down ideas. He just writes. In this Q&A session from 2012, King goes into details about his ideas, screenwriting, Lovecraft, and a lot more. It’s really good. (I’m going to flag this NSFW since there is some strong language.)
My favorite quote from the talk:
“People will say, “do you keep a notebook.” And the answer is I think a writer’s notebook is the best way in the world to immortalize bad ideas. My idea about a good idea is one that sticks around and sticks around and sticks around.”
Last Thursday my friend Lauren Sapala tagged me in a blog hop wherein I reveal 4 secrets to my writing process, and then tag a few people I follow to continue the hop. If you have been a follower of my blog for any time I am not sure how secret any of these answers are, but here it goes…
What are you working on?
I am currently working on a bunch of different things at the moment. First: I am in the process of finishing up my latest novel Old Broken Road which is coming out soon. Really excited about it. It continues the story setup in The Stars Were Right but also works as a stand alone book. I’m also in the middle of writing the third in that same series, keeping that pretty close to my chest for now. Finally I’m spending some time working on a new near future sci-fi currently being written under the working title Deep. Clearly, I’m a busy guy.
How does your work differ from others in the genre?
Most of my work I write is cross genre. So if you want to read something different, read my books. I write new weird, but it could also be described as urban fantasy or even post-apocalyptic sci-fi. I really strive to write prose that is easy and approachable. I like rich description woven into the story so I try to avoid info dumps and as a result my books are often fast paced, fun, easy reads. My influences are writers like H.P. Lovecraft, China Miéville, Neil Gaiman, Mark Twain, and Cormac McCarthy.
Why do you write what you write?
I like to write what I want to read. I write genre fiction but I get quickly bored with generic settings. I’m fascinated by crossover: books, film, television that can be firmly one thing and also something else. I think there’s a lot of room to explore those gray spaces that often fall through the cracks or are ignored.
How does your writing process work?
It’s going to be really hard to fit this into one small response, but I’ll try…
First: I write every damn day. Sometimes it’s hard, most of the time it’s sloppy, often it’s not a lot, but I still do it. I think that discipline is very important to success. I’m a planner but I am not as strict as I once was, so these days my outlines are fluid. I follow them until I see something that doesn’t work and I’m willing to make adjustments. I’m also not afraid to throw away work. Failure is a part of success, if something’s not working: cut it.
Second, and equally as important: I make it a point not to get hung up in what distracts me. Often aspiring writers spend too much time navel gazing and not enough time working on their craft. It’s a temptation for everyone in every creative field faces and I have forced myself to not get caught up in that and I try to channel that energy into my work. Here’s the best writing advice I can give anyone: go write.
Now the torch must be passed. What’s funny is this was a tough one for me since a lot of the folks I would have linked have already filled out this hop! Anyway, here’s four others I would recommend checking out:
Drew is an aspiring writer that often writes really deep introspective blog posts on his process. He’s been documenting his journey as he goes along. Really good stuff. I recommend checking him out. I can’t wait to read what he produces.
Dean Wesley Smith
For the last year Smith has been blogging about writing in his series Writing in Public. It’s basically a year-long version of this hop. He goes into a lot of details and explains everything from his work to his process to his schedule.
The current king of indie writing also keeps a great blog where he talks about everything from writing to publishing. Very much worth a read.