I occassionally like to pretend that I’m going to write a book someday, but unless I’ve been writing in my sleep without knowing it, this isn’t likely to happen. I do, however, still enjoy reading about writing. I have a shelf full of writing guides and memoirs as proof of that.
Wired’s Steve Silberman recently asked 23 authors what they wish they’d known before attempting to write a book, and he listed their answers in a blog post. The core advice seems to be:
- Download Scrivener – the beloved Mac writing/organization tool, now with a Windows beta.
- Write something, fool – write every day, no matter how you feel, no matter how awful it seems. Even if it’s only a few hundred words. Don’t wait for inspiration, just get something down on paper.
- Make it something you’d want to read – rather than something you think someone else will want to read.
- Write a shitty first draft – don’t even try to make it look good. Revel in its shittiness.
- Cut off distractions – find a way, whether it’s using a computer without an Internet connection or using one of those distraction apps.
- Break it down – the full target of a manuscript can be overwhelming, but it’s just a series of scenes or articles pieced together.
This is the same basic advice you’ll get from any book, since it really just boils down to finding out what works for you and bloody well doing it. I guess that holds true for any ambition, really – just do it, and do it often.
I would write something now, but maybe I’ll just read some life hacker articles on how to avoid procrastination first…