Help for writers
November 19, 2004 4:08 AM   Subscribe

How do you write? Where do you get your ideas from? How do you ensure productivity and creativity in writing and avoiding the dreaded block? How do you further your writing, develop it, polish it, learn, and grow? (More inside)

know mefi has some serious writers lurking about. And I "know" a lot of the answers to these questions, and where to find them. I want the opinion of MeFi, because I trust it and value it.

I'm about to embark on writing in what I would consider a serious manner, perhaps for the first time. Writing and literature run in my family. A major portion of my family is published, though in niche genres.

I've reached a developmental stage where I'm much less afraid of rejection and objective critique, and I'm finding it difficult to find honest, objective critique that goes beyond "Oh, that's nice. I like that." and gets into the nitty gritty mechanics of writing.

I don't want to get rich, I don't want to write gristmill supermarket paperback chaff unfit for birdcage liner. I'm writing for the sake of it. I've negotiated a contract with my SO that I need to write, that she'll support me as long as I write a mandated amount every day (even if it's crap), and that we both agree it's high time I get moving. Yeah, there are silly dreams of the Great American Novel, whatever that may be, but they aren't overwhelming. But I don't have any unrealistic expectations of getting published. (If I ever get published, like, woah. Gravy. Just to be published. I'm already poor, so it's ok if I don't make any money.)

I'm a high school drop out with only sporadic moments of higher education. I'm nearly entirely self-taught, and I've learned to write through reading. I couldn't diagram a sentence if my life depended on it. But all of my life I've collected unusual stories and thrown myself into unusual situations just for the experience of it; Just to record those stories for later, for a rainy day. Some of my favorite authors are Theodore Sturgeon, Kurt Vonnegut, John Steinbeck, Ray Bradbury, and Philip K. Dick.

So, how do you write?

Here's a sample of something I wrote that's posted here. And here's a sample of something on E2. And another sample of an unusual experience.
posted by loquacious to Writing & Language (21 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Heh, that first line should go "I know..."

Smooth move, ExLax. Copy/paste missed a letter. It's well past bedtime, time for sleep.
posted by loquacious at 4:11 AM on November 19, 2004

Well, when it comes to writing, I like to take my cue from Thomas Edison. No, I'm not a genius but writing is also "1% inspiration and 99% perspiration". Ok, so I assumed you knew that. The trick is how do you force yourself to create the perspiration, I have a similar method to this. Via Merlin's 43 Folders site.

Get a kitchen timer, set it for 10 minutes. When it goes off, are you writing? If not, then you're goofing off. Set timer again. Start writing. Repeat until you have a predetermined number of pages.
posted by jeremias at 4:59 AM on November 19, 2004

Write what you enjoy, but not what you love. It's far too tempting to write through the rose-colored lenses of admiration on a topic which you are obsessed. Yet, if you find yourself not enjoying your topic, it is easy to lose interest.

Find a time when you feel alive. Not just awake and aware. A time when you feel invincible. What flows forth may be scattered and incomprehensible, but I find that it is a wonderful way to gather uninhibited ideas without the worry of "Oh this sounds so stupid, I shouldn't put it in there." thoughts.

As I have not tried to have any of my work published, I haven't focused much on refining what I have. However, I find that emotional situations lead me to think about my writing, even if only subconsciously. It's difficult to force the issue, and yet you want to continue what you write. Be open to new ideas, and use what works.

On a more personal level, I find that writing is most comfortable in an unbuttoned shirt, a loose pair of boxers, and if it's cold, a pair of socks. Have something non-sugary and non-caffinated to drink. You don't want to get thirsty midway and become distracted, and you don't want to disturb your mindset. Don't write on an empty stomach either, have a good meal beforehand. Make sure to spend a bit of time watching the stars too, it's really a beautiful sky at night. Sometimes, the calm chaos of the cosmos will draw out the proper words.

Really, you could ignore everything I just said and succeed, or follow it all and fail. It's really a matter of finding the best environment for yourself to write in, a proper subject, and just bang away at the keys. You'll get something, and once you see what it looks like, it's just fine-tuning.

Of course, it looks like you know most of that quite well already. What's left is personal intuiton, something that's difficult to describe to another. My personal favorite author, Isaac Asimov, wrote with passion. He loved to write, he lived his books. His writing always gives me a vivid view of what's happening, not from any particular point of view, but from how I think Asimov himself must have envisioned his worlds. I don't know if that's replicable, or if that's a good idea... but I do know it's a great example.

If you write about what you love, love what you write. You don't care about becoming a best seller, which is good. Focus on bringing anyone who does read your work into your mind. After all, a writer is no less than a creator of worlds.

I do hope this, if not helpful, is at least inspiring.
posted by Saydur at 5:07 AM on November 19, 2004

How do you write?

Be consistent. Make a plan -- I will write for x hours each day -- and just simply stick to it.

Where do you get your ideas from? How do you ensure productivity and creativity in writing and avoiding the dreaded block?

Don't wait for ideas to come. Some days they will and some days they won't. Writing is a discipline, like practicing piano. You don't wait for inspiration, you practice. So you need to be grounded in a consistent schedule -- writing for x hours each day -- to get you through the rough patches where you believe you have no compelling ideas. Relying on the euphoric burst of inspiration to propel you is a recipe for self-sabotage, since that kind of "a-ha! this is perfect!" moment is not going to happen with every sentence you write, and since sometimes the depression/despair/writers' block that comes from thinking "I don't have anything to write about" is really fear talking -- which leads to procrastination, which leads to losing enthusiasm for what you're working on, which leads to not writing. When you have a routine in place, you can write through that fear and get to the place where your ideas flow, even if you think they're not worthy.

When I was working on my first book, and I had a very tight deadline, I realized two things: 1) I had no time to obsess about how much I sucked, and 2) obsessing about how much I sucked was part of the creative process for me. So I made a deal with myself: at the beginning of each three-hour writing session, I allowed myself five full minutes of complete freaking out, where I envisioned every horrible publishing fantasy I could think of -- my editor hating the manuscript, the publisher demanding I return my advance, humiliating reviews and interviews, public ridicule, you name it -- and then I'd be done. I'd stop the ruminating, silence the fear, and get to work. Some days I'd be able to get 3 or 4,000 words in; some days I'd feel stuck and work on editing what I'd written the day before. But allowing myself my fraud-complex fears and, most importantly, setting a limit on them definitely helped me move through potential blocks and stay productive.

How do you further your writing, develop it, polish it, learn, and grow?

By having it read -- either by trusted reader-friends, by fellow writers (like in a writing group), or by editors when you send it out. Reading more and identifying what it is you like about the author's tone/style/use of POV/etc. is also useful in that it helps inform your own writing. But really the best way to develop is through critique. That can be the scariest part -- the act of writing is so private, and sharing your work with others can make you feel quite vulnerable. But you write to be read, and if you want to be read well, you need feedback and criticism.

Also, I'd say, doing something like NaNoWriMo (too late for this year, though) is a good way to get in the habit of writing every day or working toward a goal on a large project, since there's a daily word count you aim for, some feeling of camraderie (since you're one of many trying to accomplish the same thing), and no pressure for everything to be mind-blowingly amazing.
posted by mothershock at 6:51 AM on November 19, 2004

But all of my life I've collected unusual stories and thrown myself into unusual situations just for the experience of it; Just to record those stories for later, for a rainy day.

I'm writing for the sake of it.

Sounds like you're off to an absolute killer start, loquacious. You're obviously experiencing life, and doing it with that little camera, the perspective of a writer, running somewhere in the background. I like your choice of authors, too.

I'm no expert, not by a longshot, but I have a few practical tips I've stumbled over here and there. E-mail me if you like. I don't want to ramble self-indulgently here.
posted by Shane at 6:57 AM on November 19, 2004

Lawrence Block's Telling Lies for Fun and Profit lays out some core principles in a really entertaining way. The most important thing, to me, is making the time to write every day and putting that first. If you've been working at an office job for years, sitting at your computer and thinking about stories to tell may not feel like "work", and so you might be tempted to interrupt it to answer the door, go out for lunch with a friend, to MetaFilter. Don't. You need to schedule your workday rigorously.

When you feel "stuck" or uncreative, there is plenty of uncreative writing work to do, from editing to making backups of your work to researching new markets. The key is to schedule a workday as a writer and treat it as sacrosanct.

I went to a conference a couple of years ago where one of the speakers was Dan Chaon, who was talking about his novel You Remind Me of Me (very good, though sad). He said that after years as a short-story writer and creative writing teacher, it was hard for him to find the structure he needed to write his novel, until a friend bought him the book The Weekend Novelist, by Robert J. Ray. At first, Chaon said, he scorned the book--he wasn't a "weekend novelist" but a full-time novelist, damnit! But at a point of incredible stuck-ness, Chaon turned to the book and found its suggestions for making and sticking to a work schedule very helpful.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:24 AM on November 19, 2004

1. Write. Just write. Don't sit staring at the blank page or screen and try to craft beautiful sentences and paragraphs in your head beforehand. Just start scribbling or clacking away. Sure, it will start out being random, stream-of-consciousness stuff, but suddenly you'll find yourself writing the story. Trust me, once your brain vomits out all its garbage, it'll dig its claws into the interesting gem and won't let go. Take it and run with it.

2. Try to write at the same time everyday, even if you're the type of person that can't bear routine (like me). If you're a night person, do it at night when everyone's gone to bed. If you're a morning person, do it when you first wake up. My grandma used to do it at 5 am when her young children were still asleep. Find a time when your brain seems to be hyper-alert and needs to tell stories (for me, that's at night), and do it then. Do not let stupid shit preempt this. Once you get into the habit of writing at the same time every day, it's hard to break.

3. Prepare your space. Make sure you're always stocked up on notebooks and writing utensils beforehand (if that's how you write). If you sit down to write and suddenly find yourself without the necessary supplies, it's the easiest thing in the world to say, "Ah! No more pens! Guess I'm not writing today" and plunk yourself down in front of the television. If you need music, food, etc., make sure you're going to have it there beforehand. If you need silence, make it known to all that silent-time needs to happen then. If you need to have a specific space secured beforehand, do so. You know the drill.

4. Recognize writer's block for what it is: bullshit. The only time I have ever had writer's block was when I was a teenager, and I felt like everything I wrote had to be as good as the stuff I liked to read (Vonnegut, Hemingway, Steinbeck, etcetera). So, of course, I'd just sit there stewing, thinking, "How am I going to write anything better than THAT?" I would come up with nothing, and so get more and more depressed, and finally just go do something else entirely so I could stop thinking about what a horrible writer I was. And all this without having written a word that day! Writer's block is fear and unrealistic expectations, plain and simple. To eliminate this, see #1.

5. Know when you're done for the day. After a spate of feverish scribbling you may, at a certain point, suddenly start grasping for words. When you do, STOP. Even if you still have the clear idea in your head of how you want your story to go, just leave it. Wait for the next day. If you struggle for words, your writing will be stilted, and it'll mean more editing for you later.

6. Edit, edit, edit! Be your most ruthless editor. The best way to keep your copy as clean as possible is to think more critically than the most critical editor you can imagine. That's not to say you should see unredeemable shit where it doesn't exist, but know what to look for! To that end, pick up a copy of Strunk and White's Elements of Style. Call me old-fashioned, but I consider it indi-fucking-spensible. If you don't approach the things you read very critically, start doing so. If a newspaper article or novel starts to bore you or lose your attention, ask yourself why. Then say, "What would I change?" Go through and mark it up! Also, have at least three good friends who differ from each other in taste and are willing to honestly appraise your work (and not give you the ol' lukewarm "Oh. Nice" stuff).

6a. 90% of the shitty writing I read would probably be pretty good if not for cliches, redundancies, and poor grammar and syntax. Know these things, and keep an ever-present watch for them (but not while writing -- don't edit while you write -- only after).

6b. Don't edit in the same format you write in. If you write on the computer, print it out and edit on the page with pen. If you write on paper, type it up and edit it on the computer. Switch several times.

Those are my big ones. It doesn't sound like you're hard up for inspiration or ideas. The most important thing in writing, to me, is fearlessness. Disentagle yourself from your unhelpful expectations, fears, and fantasies and just GO.

For what it's worth, I published a collection of short stories just last month (in concert with a friend, who designed and printed it) at the ripe ol' age of 22, doing nothing more than adhering to the guidelines I've written above. (Though I've only had a handful of copies printed -- I don't expect anyone besides my friends and family to read it, and I'm near-certain I won't make any money off of it, but it's still exciting.)

I also love reading new writing, and am happy to edit or offer my viewpoint on anything, no matter how busy I am. Feel free to e-mail me your stuff if you need another pair of eyes! I'm super-friendly, honest. :)

Good luck!
posted by fricative at 7:46 AM on November 19, 2004 [3 favorites]

Whoops, sorry, I feel like I'm the schmuck who rambled self-indulgently. Sorry for the length!
posted by fricative at 7:59 AM on November 19, 2004

How do you write?

I write the speaking voice I hear in my head.

Where do you get your ideas from?


How do you ensure productivity and creativity in writing and avoiding the dreaded block?

For blogwriting, I don't worry about it. If it doesn't come, I just link around until I have a reaction to something, then I let that flow.

For prowriting I set a wordcount target and estimated manhour budget, make an outline, write the whole thing in one burst, put it aside. Then I listen to my tapes to find the quotes I had in mind, transcribe them, and rewrite with the quotes. Then I cut to fit the word budget and check my labor estimate.

If I have time, I put it aside and cut, rearrange, and rewrite three times. Then I read it backwards (time allowing) looking for spell-check-proof typos. Then I send it off.

How do you further your writing, develop it, polish it, learn, and grow?

posted by mwhybark at 8:06 AM on November 19, 2004

This is the advice I give on writing a first novel:

Bit o' Advice #1: You can do it. The numbers seem insurmountable at first, especially when you're laying the introduction and exposition. Set a word goal for each day, and write until you get to that goal. Some days, it will be like slitting your own wrists for ink, but do it anyway.

Bit o' Advice #2: Don't take a day off. Write if you feel crappy. Write if it's beautiful out and you want to play. On days you want to do something fun like, say, watch Smallville- get your writing done early. Taking even one day off can throw your whole rhythm.

Bit o' Advice #3: Pick one ideal reader, and don't let anybody else read it until you're done. Your ideal reader should be someone who is both supportive and honest; someone who will tell you if you've lost your way, or seem to be right on target. Anybody can find someone who will say nothing but nice things, but you need someone who will say honest things. Your ideal reader will save you when you hit the wall.

Bit o' Advice #4: Ask close friends or family to cheer you on. This, like #3, will help buoy you through those dark times when you can't seem to get anything done, nothing is coming out right, and your word count is short for the day. Just knowing you have people on your side during this process makes it exponentially less scary.

Bit o' Advice #5: Playing with the numbers might be encouraging. I am not usually a math person in the least, but keeping track of 10% finished, 1/3 finished, etc., really helped me to put my output in perspective. It was exciting to hit 50%, and 75% surprised me beyond words. Numbers help put your accomplishment into an easily quantifiable package.

Bit o' Advice #6: You can do it. I know I said that already, but I really mean it. When I started my book, I allotted myself 1000 words a day. I was prepared to finish just before Christmas. As I got into the routine, and got more comfortable in my universe, I pushed it to 2500, then to 5000. I started my book on September 13th, and finished it on October 13th; it's 75,541 words. The combination of discipline and encouragement made it possible.

This is the advice I give on writing a second novel:

Bit o' Advice #1: Book #2 is NOT Book #1. The sooner you realize that, the smoother the writing will go. The chapters will be different lengths, the characters will have their own irritating quirks, and the language you use will be vastly different. The physical and emotional experience will be completely different as well. Nevertheless, Book #2 is not your red-headed stepchild, and you're not failing just because things aren't the same as the first time around.

Bit o' Advice #2: Even though Book #2 is NOT Book #1, set your word count and stick to it. It may take you longer; you may not get a burst of last-5 chapters inspiration to burn through 5000 words a day. That's okay- as long as you're turning over your original goal count every day, you're fine. This time, though, you will know the difference between wanting to screw around and procrastinate and truly having a day where it's just better off not to write. Take that day if you have to, but don't ever take two of them in a row.

Bit o' Advice #3: Keep (and feed chocolate to) your Ideal Reader, but you probably won't need the cheerleading section this time. You already know you can *complete* a novel, and that's all they were there for anyway. Do tell family and friends, that way they understand when you decline a dinner invitation or whatnot, but feel free to take off the training wheels.

Bit o' Advice #4: Your desk is clean enough. You already know enough about South American Toenail Widgets. It is not the end of the world if you leave a _______ in the first draft until you find out what a left-nostril inhaler is really called. Just because you know the difference between "bad day to write" and procrastination doesn't mean that you won't get even more creative with your procrastination. Just write.

This is the general advice I give:

To grow, to develop, to learn to polish- be someone who actually means it when he says "I can take constructive criticism." Anyone with a reasonably sound grasp of grammar and punctuation can do his own line editing (I suggest starting with the last line first and working backwards so you don't get distracted by reading,) but you'll never see the things that really need work because they're already in your head. You know Emily has a bone spur and that's why she walks with a cane, which is why she ends up falling down the stairs in Chapter 12-- your reader doesn't unless you tell them. If your Ideal Reader tells you something doesn't make sense, something doesn't sound right, something needs clarification, something needs cutting, something needs adding- something, something, anything- listen. It's not an indictment against you as a human being.

There is no such thing as writer's block- blocked writers manage to post to MetaFilter, send e-mail, chat online, whine on message boards etc., etc., etc.. They are perfectly capable of writing. It's idea block. It's excitement block. It's desire block. The only way to get through it is to keep writing, even if all you're writing is crap. Don't worry about the crap- you have to edit and rewrite when you're finished with the first draft anyway. Just write.

Reading books and asking other people how they write may be interesting and illuminating, but ultimately it's just trivia. The only way to write a book is to *just write it*. Word count goals work for me. They may not work for you. Looking at the numbers excited me; they may frustrate you. Hell, the third novel I wrote, I wanted to smack all the supportive people asking me what page I was on and how it was going. The only universally true thing that any writer can tell another is "Treat writing as if it's your career." You have to show up and do the work if you want to pay yourself with a completed manuscript.

Just write. Just write. Just write.
posted by headspace at 8:09 AM on November 19, 2004 [2 favorites]

I think fricative's advice just above is great. Wish someone had told me that before I had to learn it the hard way.

I found it very, very useful to have a set time to write every day where I sit on my desk and just write, write, write. My time is from 7-1030am because I work best in the morning when there are no disturbances, no phone calls, no appointments, usually no people around at all.

And when I write I never look on what I write, editing -although equally important- is for later.

(I've only published scholarly stuff and feature articles though, but I guess there are some common rules)

Good writing!
posted by mummimamma at 8:17 AM on November 19, 2004

1.) Exercise. I hate to employ a hackneyed expression, but: "Get those creative juices flowing." From my minimal understanding of neurology, physical exercise is good for the brain. (I've read that caffeine also activates creative centers.) If you're a lark, go for a jog. If you're an owl, do a few crunches. Maybe keep a small dumbbell next to your desk. Give yourself five minutes of exercise before writing, or to barrel through a block.

2.) Write for public consumption. As others have said, you have to write every day. But to use an analogy from my days as a musician: The only way to practice for a recording is to make recordings. Once that red light comes on, everything changes. So yes, do write consistently, but don't tell yourself, "It's just practice." Make it real. Amazon Reviews are one easy, constructive way to implement this practice. The stakes don't have to be high, but you need an audience.

3.) Read more than you write. Creativity as a source is a myth. Creativity is a process, and the quality of your output is directly related to the quality (and quantity) of input. Read Shakespeare and Dickens. Read Chandler and O'Brian. Read textbooks about fire fighting, aerial combat, and traffic engineering. Devour books. If your Reading:Writing ratio is lower than 2:1, remind yourself that humility is a virtue.

4.) Never publish first drafts. Unless you're writing news copy, there's no need to rush. Give yourself at least 24 hours between each revision. Several days is optimal. Remove yourself from each stage of writing, so you'll approach the piece with a fresh eye -- and you'll read what you actually wrote, not what you meant to write. [Yes, we've been told about revision, but it bears repeating. And I'd add a caveat: If you're a perfectionist, recognize that weakness and limit your revision. Impose a deadline, or a strict limit on the number of revisions. Make an effort to find middle ground.]

5.) Study writing (a little). Books about process should comprise a tiny portion of your library, but they must be present. Familiarize yourself with different techniques, whether you find them valuable or not. I think Bill Walsh is pedantic; but reading his books provokes me to consider questions I wouldn't otherwise, even if I disagree with his answers. Creative writing is equal parts art and craft. Immerse yourself in inspiration, but don't neglect craftsmanship.

That's my nickel.
posted by cribcage at 8:30 AM on November 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

"Smooth move, ExLax."

Try to avoid cliches whenever possible. ;-P

fricative's first point is known as "Write crap." Google the phrase. It works for me.

As for ideas, they hit me out of nowhere like a ton of bricks (oops), and they don't stop pestering me until I start working on them. They even drag me out of bed at 3 am.
posted by mischief at 8:44 AM on November 19, 2004

Response by poster: Holy cow. You folks and AskMe rock so much you just cranked it up to 11 and blew up the stadium.

I'm only (marginally) awake because my girlfriend had to move the car out of the rolling no-parking zone that goes red in the morning, so I'll need to come back in a few hours to properly thank individuals, but you people are just... wow. I'm gonna shaddup now before I get emo, and I don't even have a tight sweater.

I saw at least one person aplogizing for the length of their post. Please don't apologize for that. To a voracious reader like me, it's like apologizing that you made too much good food, or your wang's too big or something. (Err, eww! Sorry!)

And almost all the comments are from posters I know I've recognized and appreciated in the blue and elsewhere. Many thanks. Many good ideas here that I'd never considered. Back in an hour or four after more sleep and breakfast. :)
posted by loquacious at 8:44 AM on November 19, 2004

Perhaps some useful answers in this previous thread, though the above answers are awesome.
posted by dobbs at 9:50 AM on November 19, 2004

Most of what I would have said is already there, but one that isn't: history and biography are both excellent sources for plot points, characterizations, etc. I come up with more story ideas per page reading history than any other genre by far. Reading the kind of thing that you want to write should be done in moderation; you should be familiar with your audience and your genre, but the more you contain your reading within that space, the more likely you are to produce work that's derivative and uninspired.
posted by vraxoin at 10:00 AM on November 19, 2004

something that hasn't been noted (I don't think?) is how great notebooking can be for inspiration/ideas. I know that I have a lot of "woah, that should be in [story]" moments when I'm walking to the grocery store or otherwise doing something where I'm not generally around pen and paper... and a great deal of time, these little ideas (generally even things like neat character traits and little things like that) are going to disappear in a few minutes. It doesn't have to be intrusive to tuck a little 5/3" notebook into your back pocket in the morning, and I find it can be wonderfully helpful. Similarly, if I'm stuck or bored I'll often go and reread old notes, and then go for a good walk; having those little ideas floating around and then getting out and just playing with them lets you sometimes find things that will stick together and make something worthwhile.

As for writing daily, it's an important point... if I don't have anything concrete to work on, I'll make myself drop a few thousand words just on things that have been bothering me about my writing lately, or problems I'm stumbling over in things I'm working on, and that can really help break up creative congestion. I'm also going to disagree with people who've been saying that you should force it each day, every day; I try to write every day but there are a few times a month where it just isn't going to happen, and I'll find myself staying up until 2am and only have a few hundred words done, which I know I'm going to edit out the next day; at times like these I think it's best to just let it lie and sleep... make sure that you're going to go back tomorrow, the important thing is to not beat yourself up when things are slow.

meanwhile, I'm a thousand words behind for the day and I have a lecture in fifteen minutes... go mefi.

and e2 of course is wonderful as far as having an audience for things you're doing.

all the best.
posted by cmyr at 10:54 AM on November 19, 2004

Fricative's 6b hadn't occurred to me. It's an insightful suggestion that reminds me of a passage from Dr. Richard Restak's Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot. Quoting Chapter 17, which addresses attention and concentration:

"Although you have probably never thought of it this way, reading and writing on a computer actually has a lot in common with watching television. Both televisions and computers incorporate a mosaic of images, backlit screens, and near instantaneous speed. All three of these attributes, especially in combination, tend to engage the right hemisphere and thus generate emotional involvement. This, of course, results in conflict since words -- at least the words involved in business communications -- are intended to involve the rational, processing characteristics of the left hemisphere. Further, when words appear on a computer screen, the right hemisphere is called into play in ways that would not occur when you're writing or reading the same words on a page. Indeed, expressing one's opinion on the computer screen engages a different part of the brain than when writing or typing out the same sentiment on a piece of paper."

Most of the writers I admire who are alive today maintain little if any presence on the internet. Maybe that's significant, or maybe it's pure coincidence. Either way, it's an ironic sentiment from someone who just joined MetaFilter...but there you go.
posted by cribcage at 11:10 AM on November 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

cribcage, I read that book also and that's the most valuable lessonI learned from it. Very useful.
posted by dobbs at 12:02 PM on November 19, 2004

I'm not a serious writer, but I'm not a bad writer. I'm the son of an english teacher and tend to reject the technical side of writing and focus more on the emotional and artistic sides.

To practice writing, I try to write at least one charachter sketch per day. This could be based on someone I know ... like the people I work with, or a client, or a friend, or someone I see on the street and build a whole life for in my mind. It's continual exercise that helps build the muscles you need to make a difference in your writing skills.
posted by SpecialK at 1:17 PM on November 19, 2004

I've never felt a need to write like any of the authors I've read. While this hasn't turned me into an overnight success, I've also never experienced a day of writer's block in my life.
posted by scarabic at 4:38 PM on November 19, 2004

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