Working on my current manuscript, I have been reading a lot! Writing is reading. You can’t do one without the other. Although I have enjoyed plenty of fiction, I have also been researching with some great reads on writing. I have a pile of books on the topic that will be absorbed at some point, but for now I’ll talk about the ones I have completed since isolation. First is:
The Getaway Car, Ann Patchett
You will not find it on Ann Patchett’s website, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble. But you can download it here for free. It is a 75-page essay on her biggest lessons in writing. I can summarize them here, but do yourself a favour and download it for inspiration later. I am not nearly as inspiring.
- Write ideas down.
- The journey from head to hand is perilous and lined with bodies. Many get lost.
- Get others to review your work and be critical.
- Get on a course of hard work.
- The ability to set yourself free from being perfect. Write the book you are capable of writing instead of the book you want to write.
- Have something to say. Being a part of life gives you something interesting to say. Have wide-ranging experiences–they will make their way into your writing as they come or be morphed into something.
- Be vigilant about finding the places in your own work where you are phoning it in.
- Tune your ear to the usefulness and uselessness of other people’s opinions.
- Finish something first. The next idea will not save you from drowning. (UGH! This is my biggest problem but after reading this, I closed all but one manuscript and, believe it or not, it is going much better than usual!)
- Write the book you want to read.
- Write in the order it will be read. (I didn’t think this was important, but it is sure making a difference for my work.)
- Sit for two hours a day at a blank page if you really want to write.
- Read your work aloud.
- Don’t be afraid of serious research.
- There are times to write, times to think, and times to live your life. Commit to one lousy hour every day for a month. Keep sitting there.
Many of these I already do, pat on back administered. Namely 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 13, and 14 but that is it. Apparently I have a lot to learn! I half-ass a lot of the others, but I’ll work on making improvements with those too.
What are your strengths from this list? What are you working on?