Maya Angelou said, “Some critics will write: ‘Maya Angelou is a natural writer’ – which is right after being a natural heart surgeon.”
I find this incredibly encouraging. Writing is hard work. At least good writing is. It looks effortless, which I suppose is why there are so many people trying to get published. Some of my favorite writing advice has been “Plant butt in chair.” I gotta say, I love that feeling when I get rolling on something, and I hit the “zone” where the words and ideas come almost faster than I can get them down. I suppose I’d have more experiences like this if I was able to follow the PBiC rule more often.
What other good writing advice is there? Heinlein’s Rules for Writing, which he freely gave out, went thusly:
- You must write.
- You must finish what you write.
- You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
- You must put the work on the market.
- You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.
Robert J. Sawyer, the Canadian science fiction author, has a great take on these on his page , plus adding a sixth rule of his own. Rule #2 is often the most daunting. It’s easier to get something started than to keep it rolling. If I could get past that I might get a chance to try following the rest of the rules.
I struggle most with finding inspiration. I know, I know, I can’t wait for the muse to arrive, I have to Plant Butt in Chair and just write. One of the things that gets me going is reading, especially good writing. I’m still in a Jane Austen haze. Actually, reading good writing can backfire sometimes. If it’s that good, I feel a bit discouraged and think “why should I bother when I know I’ll never write that well?” I guess I bother because I can’t not.