Thursday, February 25, 2010

Heat #11: Pro-Boarding

Today we're going to put a new spin on the notion that success breeds success. Instead of looking to your own successes and building on them, we're going to examine what other successful writers do, and how they do it.

When do they write? Do they have daily page goals? Do they have rituals? Do they create rules for themselves?

I think that if you want to be successful, you look at what successful people do, and then you do that, too. You might find you need to refine their methods to suit your particular needs. You might find multiple methods and choose between them. Perhaps Annie Author locks herself in her attic office every morning, and doesn't emerge until she has written a thousand words. Perhaps Wrobert Writer spends months researching his subject and doesn't set pen to paper until the research is done. Whatever methods they choose, those methods have led to success. Why did the method work? How does that habit breed success?

In the comments, tell us a habit you learned from a successful writer, and tell us why you think that has contributed to the writer's success. Everyone who comments will be entered in the drawing for prizes, which will be awarded at the Closing Ceremony.


Holly Rutchik said...

I've noticed from several author blogs that they all have a SET TIME each day for writing. Not only is this time set, but it is often in the morning. I've learned that writing "when I have time" is not a habit of a true writer, and I need to make a choice....

Anonymous said...

Stephen King says he writes 2,000 words a day. From what I can see, every writer I follow (whether via a blog or on twitter), writes every single day.

Much like a sport where learning technique becomes a part of muscle memory, daily writing becomes a habit. If I write every day, I don't need to wait around for inspiration or a muse to tell me what to do.

Kathleen MacIver said...

I think what challenged me the most was reading how published authors essentially say that writer's block only exists if you let it. We have to learn to force words out, even when it's not easy.

I learned that it's true. Sometimes the words I force out end up getting cut, but even then, they often lead to great ideas and parts of the story that were definite keepers.

feywriter said...

Robin McKinley writes 2-12 hours a day, seven days a week. I think it worked because she took it slow early on, giving time for the story to form, but still writing every day. Then once she got further in, knew the story better, she invested more time. This way she was consistent in getting words down, but didn't force the story, letting it come as it was ready.

I really like her method, as it seems to combine both Butt-In-Chair and the magic of the muse. You can have both!

Dave Shaw said...

The common thing in almost every successful writer's approach seems to be persistence. Whether it's learning about writing, practicing writing, or putting one's work out there, persistence is what makes it all come together.

Word verification: persest

I did not see that until after I decided what I was going to write above. How weird is that?

Anonymous said...

The best habit I heard is to start a small ritual to 'get myself into the writing mood'. I play a small piece of music that sets the theme for the book, and think about it for a bit, settling myself into the right mood.

Anonymous said...

I've learned from Fiona McIntosh's forum that no writing is wasted writing - it is all part of the journey. Naturally, the journey is to tell your story.

Then last year, I gleaned from a workshop with Kate Forsyth (she has over 20 books published) that the key to success as an author is to know how to reach 'the end' of your story.

Jami Gold said...

Write even when you don't have anything to say.

I think this is great advice because what's the stereotype about writer's block? The blank page. So don't start with a blank page. Write something and maybe once things aren't looking as intimidating, useful words will come to you.

Jami G.

Leona said...

I am fortunate enought to be friends with a jerry LAEL as in Linda LAEL Miller. She came to Ellensburg and I was invited to go not only to the book signing, but the tea they held for her.

I had one of the best afternoon's ever. I was treated like family, got to sit at her table for the tea, listened to her talk about her writing life and had a blast. If that wasn't enough, I then was treated to talking with her afterwards. She found out about my writing (obviously!) and geve me lots of pointers, most of which I try to follow.

Linda put out an incredible number of books last year. I don't know wht the actual count was but I think it was something like 5 or six full lenght novels released in a 12-13 month period.

She said she writes 5k words a day. As I discovered with NanoWriMo, I can do that when I put my mind to it.

That was one of the best things she ever told me. What I have going for me now is because of her belief in me at that moment and the help of fellow bloggers (YA Edge held a contest shortly after that and I proved to myself I could write thousands of words a day).

Because of my family time, I'm setting 3k as my goal :)

Jordan said...

I'm going to have to go with the persistence theme, too. Even the most talented writer ever wouldn't be published if she gave up after the first draft or the first rejection.

And then there's the advice to make writing a priority—what a lot of the other comments boil down to. Know when to say know to other things (even people you love)—and when not to.

Riley Murphy said...

Even if I can't sit down and write during the course of the day, I will make notes - or jot down a word that sounded interesting to me - or a phrase. Anything that keeps me inspired and moving forward with my work.. I might not be putting fingers to the keyboard - but I'm thinking about all the cool stuff I'll be banging out when I do get the chance. :D


Sylvia said...

I've been going through Ten rules for writing fiction | Books | - it's very long (and there's a second part) so I am just reading one or two lists each day. Really resonating for me right now are the comments about finishing - just get it done.

I've also discovered that neither Tim Hallinan and Elisabeth Bear take weekends off. I'm feeling sort of sulky at that but I do know that I'd reach that finish line a lot faster if I wrote a two thousand more words each week.