Sunday, December 3, 2023

The Three D's of Writing

Nora Roberts, the prolific novelist, opined that "it’s going to be really hard [for a writer] to get anything done" without the "three D’s: drive, discipline and desire." Per Advice to Writers, Roberts advised:

The most important thing is you can’t write what you wouldn’t read for pleasure. It’s a mistake to analyze the market thinking you can write whatever is hot. You can’t say you’re going to write romance when you don’t even like it. You need to write what you would read if you expect anybody else to read it. And you have to be driven. You have to have the three D’s: drive, discipline and desire. If you’re missing any one of those three, you can have all the talent in the world, but it’s going to be really hard to get anything done.

And Roberts is correct in that if a writer isn't writing about a topic that he or she finds engaging, then it may be difficult to maintain enough drivediscipline and desire to complete a piece. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Writing, Rejection and Letting Go

Let It Go!

What should a writer do with his or her manuscript, which has been (repeatedly) rejected by agents and publishers? 

One option is to self-publish. And as hard as it may be to do, the second best option may be to, as Colin Broderick advised, "LET IT GO!" And move on to writing the next book. Broderick advised:

My advice is just write: write, write, write...but just as important: know when to let go. You must let go in order to move forward. Again and again I see young writers I admire getting stuck on one book. They try to get it published and nobody wants it and they go back and tweak it again and again for years without getting into something new. My advice is, "LET IT GO!" Stick it in a drawer, move on. Trust me, you will get better just by virtue of experience, and if you turn out to be Ernest Hemingway twenty years down the line, they'll ask you what you have stored away in that drawer of yours.

Monday, October 9, 2023

Should BIPOC Writers Say, "F*** It" and Self-Publish?

Jessica V Aragon (@JVA_writes\X) "tweeted" that she: "[...] spent the last year recording every english [sic] language fiction deal in Publisher's Marketplace [...]" 

Fig. 1 (Source: @JVA_writes\X)

And after "[...] googling over 4000 authors [...]" she was able to post the "[...] current book deal landscape [...]", which revealed that (approximately) 70% of the books deals that occurred between October 2022 and October 2023 were dealt to white authors. (See Fig. 1)

Fig. 2 (Source: @JVA_writes\X)

In addition, Aragon found that, with the exception of graphic novels and pictures books, white writers dominated every genre. For example, book deals involving the the mystery, horror, and fantasy genres were, over 80% of the time, given to white writers. (See Fig. 2)

(Note: Aragon tweeted she may have "miscategorized" some data (e.g., "PI authors should be 0.2%, not 0.02%.") but that her post is: "[...] representative of the current publishing landscape.")

Connectedly, Gabi Burton (@query_queen339\X) "tweeted" that "[...] every. single. author [...]" on Barnes and Noble's "Best YA Books of 2023" list is white.

Thus, my (rhetorical) question is: Should BIPOC writers self-publish? At a minimum, maybe BIPOC writers should self-publish (immediately) after being repeatedly rejected by traditional publishers. Otherwise, unless the status quo in the traditional publishing industry changes, manuscripts written my most writers of color may never see the light of day. 

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Need Therapy? Writing May Help

People use a variety of, both positive (e.g. ذِكْر) and negative (e.g., drugs), therapeutic methods to escape the dread that comes with life's inevitable trails and tribulations. As a positive method, Graham Green, the English writer and journalist, suggested writing as a form of therapy. 

Green reportedly said: 

Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those, who do not write [...] or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic [and] fear, which is inherent in the human condition.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

In the Mood [to Write]?

If you're waiting to get into the mood to write, you may be waiting for some time. It's best to make a writing schedule and stick to it - in the mood or not.

Harry Crews, the American novelist, gave similar advice. He reportedly said:

You can’t wait to write until you’re in the mood. My God, if you waited until you were in the mood, it would take forever. You have to sit down. The name of the game is to put it in the chair.

Of course, because nobody's perfect, some days you're just not going to be in the mood and, consequently, you're not going to write, but those days should be infrequent.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

A Writer's Un-Interest

A lot writers are of the opinion that success comes with writing a New York Times Best Seller, but, per Thomas Wolfe, the pinnacle of success is reached by developing in an un-interest in three things: 

  • money 
  • compliments 
  • publicity

Thomas Wolfe reportedly said: "You have reached the pinnacle of success [as a writer] as soon as you become uninterested in money, compliments, or publicity."

Saturday, May 13, 2023

What's Worse: No Book Reviews or No Book?

What's worse than getting bad book reviews? For one, getting no reviews because you never finished your book. The poet Jim Harrison reportedly said:

 “The idea of getting bad reviews is not nearly as bad as getting no reviews, frankly.” 

And once your book is published, like a number of writers, you may want to avoid reading the bad reviews

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Are Writers Narcissistic?

Source: Krizan and Herlache, 2017

Previously, we posted some quotes from famous writers concerning the connection between being a writer and belong alone. For example, James Baldwin wrote in the essay “The Creative Process” (1962): "The primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid: the state of being alone."

And, per The Paris Review's "The Art of Fiction No. 151, Martin Amis said, "The first thing that distinguishes a writer is that he is most alive when he is alone."

Interestingly, the poet Mary Karr made a connection between being a writer, being alone, and being narcissistic. Karr opined: 

All writers are narcissistic. That’s not the same as being a narcissist, as being a sociopath. But no one can sit in a room by themselves for twelve hours a day thinking about what they’re thinking and not be a little more self-focused than the normal person.

Karr may be onto something, because it's fair to say that, in general, (prolific) writers are narcissistic (i.e., more self-focused) than non-writers.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

ChatGPT: How to become a bestselling author?

 I asked ChatGPT: "How to become a bestselling author?" And here's the response:

Becoming a bestselling author is not an easy feat, but here are some steps you can take to increase your chances:

  1. Write a high-quality book: The first step to becoming a bestselling author is to write a book that people will want to read. Make sure it is well-written, engaging, and offers something unique.
  2. Build an author platform: Start building an author platform by creating a website, blog, and social media accounts. This will help you connect with potential readers and build a fan base.
  3. Engage with your readers: Once you have a following, engage with your readers by responding to comments and messages. This will help you build a community and create a loyal fan base.
  4. Network with other authors: Attend writing conferences and workshops to network with other authors. You may learn valuable tips and strategies for marketing your book.
  5. Market your book: Develop a marketing plan for your book that includes book reviews, book signings, and promotional events. You may also want to consider paid advertising.
  6. Seek traditional publishing or self-publish: Choose whether to seek a traditional publishing deal or self-publish. If you choose to self-publish, you will need to learn how to format and publish your book on platforms such as Amazon.
  7. Keep writing: Finally, keep writing! The more books you publish, the more chances you have of becoming a bestselling author.

Remember, becoming a bestselling author takes time, effort, and dedication. Keep working hard, and don't give up on your dreams.

In summary, per ChatGPT, to become a bestselling author a writer should:

1. Write a good book

2. Make an author social media account to attract potential readers 

3. Engage readers (e.g., reply to comments)

4. Network with fellow authors (e.g., follow on social media, leave comments and/or DM)

5. Market your book(s)

6. Get published or self-publish

7. Write a lot 


Monday, March 20, 2023

"I'm a Writer [for Validation]!"

Unsolicited, a guy shared with me in Central Park, "I'm a writer!" When I asked him what he had written, he replied, "Nothing yet."

Relatedly, K. M. Weiland advised, "Write every day that you can. [...] Don’t look for validation. Trust yourself," which shows that there may be a negative correlation between seeking validation and writing (prolifically). 

In other words, as the amount of validation one seeks increases, does that correlate to a decrease in page counts?

Regardless of the strength of the correlation, one should avoid writing to be validated. Instead, as we previously posted, one may want to write for one or more of the following reasons:

1. Write to inspire by spreading (positive ideas)

2. Write to avoid ennui and depression

3. Write to increase tenacity slash self-control 

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Write Fiction From Non-Fiction

How many times have you said or heard, "You just can't make this stuff up."? Per Urban Dictionary, the idiom is: an expression said in response to an an unbelievable fact or piece of news. 

But it's also, literally, true. A novelist just can't make make stuff up, because, as Rachel Khong related: "All fiction is born out of some alchemy of observation, imagination, and personal experience."

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

A Secret of Short-Story Writing

O. Henry, the famous short story writer, had a secret for writing short stories, which can apply to writing - in general. O. Henry's secret was writing to entertain William Sydney Porter. O. Henry reportedly shared:
I'll give you the sole secret of short-story writing, and here it is: Rule 1. Write stories that please yourself. There is no rule 2. [...] If you can't write a story that pleases yourself, you will never please the public. But in writing the story forget the public.
And Harlan Ellison, the New Wave writer, agreed with O. Henry in that one should write stories that are self-entertaining, because if you can't write a story that amuses yourself, you may never wow the public. Ellison reportedly advised:
Write for the most intelligent, wittiest, wisest audience in the universe: write to please [i.e., engage] yourself.

Monday, January 23, 2023

3 Must-Haves of Every Writer

There are, at least, three (3) must-haves of every writer:

Per James Baldwin a writer must cultivate the state of being alone

The primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid: the state of being alone. - JAMES BALDWIN

Per Joyce Carol Oates a writer must be able to concentrate for long periods of time

First requirement of the writer is the ability to concentrate for long periods of time. Second, more urgent requirement, the wish to do so. - @JoyceCarolOates

And Malcolm Gladwell opined that a writer must have have more than an engaging story but that a writer needs to have a strong desire to tell the story

When you write a book, you need to have more than an interesting story. You need to have a desire to tell the story. You need to be personally invested in some way. - Malcolm Gladwell 

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

The Difference Between a Writer & “I Wish I was a Writer”

Based on anecdotal evidence, most people don't believe that they have the inherit ability to write a book. How many times have I heard someone say, "I could never write a book!"? 

And of the few who attempt to write a book, based on anecdotal evidence, most never finish writing their books, which, per award winning science fiction author Octavia Butler, is what, obviously, makes the difference between a writer and “I wish I was a writer.”

Octavia Butler: "I tell the students that there comes a time when you want to either burn it or flush it. But if you keep going, you know, that’s what makes you a writer instead of an “I wish I was a writer."

So, when the inevitable imposter syndrome sets in, try not to drag your doc to the trash but keep writing until your confidence inevitably returns (إِنْ شَاءَ ٱللَّٰهُ).