Practical Tips on Writing a Book from 23 Brilliant Authors

Found this list via Twitter (thanks @NaNoWriMo)

Practical Tips on Writing a Book from 23 Brilliant Authors

These authors write non-fiction, so I think their advice on not reading similar subjects while writing may work for them, but doesn’t necessarily work for me. I would think that non-fiction, non-memoir involves a ton of notes as well, so I’m ignoring the organizing of interviews and research. I did a bit of work in that direction when I was ruminating over Iggy, by using wikispaces as a more comprehensive way to organize myself so I could really see what I had. 
I’m not normally one to go with advice given by published authors, oddly enough, but I can relate to a few things on this list:

Ben Casnocha
Entrepreneur and author of My Start-Up Life
  1. Shitty first drafts. Anne Lamott nailed it! But with books, it seems to be more like “shitty 20th drafts.” So shitty, for so long.
  2. Develop a very serious plan for dealing with internet distractions. I use an app called Self-Control on my Mac.
  3. Develop a very, very, very serious plan for dealing with internet distractions.
My plan for dealing with internet distractions? Turn the Airport option off on my laptop. And yeah, I write Shitty First Drafts. And Not-so-Shitty Second Drafts. But still shitty.

August Kleinzahler

Author of Sleeping It Off in Rapid City and Cutty, One Rock
1. I find it helpful sometimes — and still to my surprise — trying to explain to someone what it is I’m trying to write about, usually someone bright but in a different intellectual zone, and not a writer. Or, likewise, in a letter or email to such a person.
This is what a large portion of this blog really is, you know. This is how this blog began. My friends dabble in writing, but they don’t really write fiction and certainly not book-length fiction. I just want to run my ideas past people that read, but don’t necessarily write. 

Cory Doctorow

Author of With a Little Help, For the Win, Makers, and Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom
  1. Write every day. Anything you do every day gets easier. If you’re insanely busy, make the amount that you write every day small (100 words? 250 words?) but do it every day.
  2. Write even when the mood isn’t right. You can’t tell if what you’re writing is good or bad while you’re writing it.
  3. Write when the book sucks and it isn’t going anywhere. Just keep writing. It doesn’t suck. Your conscious is having a panic attack because it doesn’t believe your subconscious knows what it’s doing.
  4. Stop in the middle of a sentence, leaving a rough edge for you to start from the next day — that way, you can write three or five words without being “creative” and before you know it, you’re writing.
I kind of like that last tip. It’s interesting. 

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