Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sirs Read-a-lot and Write-a-lot

"This is a short book because most books about writing are filled with bullshit."


"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut."


— Stephen King (On Writing)

Q: Do you have advice for aspiring writers?
A:  First of all, read. Read widely, not just the stuff you think you’ll like or with which you will agree. Keep an open mind. Pay attention the writer's style, the way he or she puts the point across or tells the story. Analyse what various writers are doing and learn from it.
Secondly, write. I actually get letters from people who want to know how to get a book published, when they haven’t written it yet. Write, write, write. Try to keep to some sort of disciplined schedule, especially if you have a day job or family responsibilities that compete for your time. Subject your writing to the most stringent criticism you can find; do not seek encouraging words from family and friends who tell you you’re great. Be hard on yourself. Don’t assume that the world is waiting for your deathless prose – it isn’t. You have to be better than everyone else to get read.  -Stephen Lawhead's website
Stephen King, by the time my generation rolled around, had a big name for himself.  And, even though I didn't even crack one of his books until last year, I knew who he was, and so did a lot of the readers around me.  King is King, you know?  Kind of like the Queen of England or the President.  You don't know them, but you know of them.  If a person asked their names, you'd know.


Stephen R. Lawhead has been my favorite author since I read Byzantium back in ninth grade.     Obviously, I'd listen to any advice he'd have to offer to aspiring writers.


Although, they did contradict each other, but I didn't post King's quote.  He said he read because he liked to read.  Lawhead, as above, says to analyze it.


I fall somewhere in between the two.  I read for the heck of it a lot.  But sometimes when I read a book because I want to figure out the hype, I pay more attention to the elements of the story.  Sometimes I do both.


Of course, there's no right or wrong way to do it, I guess.  Either way, read.


Either way, write.


Back in the summer of 2007, I spent hours upon hours of looking up writing advice online.  I also started getting writing books.


So far, the only actual books that I found really helpful were The Everything Guides, and The Writer's Handbook from 1990 that I got from a garage sale when I was either or freshman or sophomore in high school.  The book's older than I am.



I have a huge binder--and I'm talking 3, maybe 4 inches--of writing advice.
I am this close to throwing it all out.  The only things I want to keep are the Pointers from the Pros that I have to get from Long Ridge anyway, and all my cliche lists.  You know, the Fantasy Novelist's Exam, the Grand List of Fantasy Cliches, the Not-So-Grand List, 13 Fantasy Cliches I Hope to Never See Again, 13 Mistakes I Hope Your Heroine Never Makes, etc.


I get "It's great that you're starting so young" a lot. Personally, I hope they're right.  Correct me if I'm wrong.  Based on what I've been told, and my own meager experience, I'm starting to think this:


Reading will be your best teacher.


Your writing will be your best test.  But instead of the kind where you'd get a letter grade, it's more like an ACT.


Is that the secret other writers have found out?


And I've also heard/read Creative Writing classes really don't help.  I've taken one, and it didn't.  I'm taking another one in the fall.  I mean, it won't hurt anything, and a lot of people have told me to take it.  And I need the credits anyway.  


Ironically, I found more stuff I could apply to writing in eighth grade Drama class, and in my tenth grade Introduction to Theatre class.  Just a thought.


I remember telling my eighth grade teacher so, she had told me, "Well, at least somebody's getting something out of this class."

1 comment:

  1. Read a lot and write a lot. Those are the two things every writer should do. It's what I do. :D

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