1 Some Ideas on Writing

Since you’ve fallen upon this website, I assume you’re interested in reading and writing and maybe even enjoy them.

I intend to add some thoughts here periodically, practices I’ve learned of and tried or realizations that have hit me, hoping they may have some value for you, too.

Let’s start with some of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever run across for writers, some public secrets that you may or may not have read or heard.

First, the main secret to successful writing (or any writing at all):  make pages.  As a painter must make paintings and a song writer must produce musical compositions, a writer must make pages.  Years ago I was reading Ray Bradbury, and he advised that a person who wants to write should compose three pages a day–every day, no excuses.  As I recall, Hemingway said something very like that.  Three makes a nice choice, but I’d say:  any number you like, even one, just so you do something regularly.  If not three pages a day, try ten per week, or fifteen per month, or whatever you can do.  But make those pages.

Second, on a tv talk show I once heard an interviewer ask Mickey Spillane, writer of noir detective stories, why he wrote what he wrote.  He answered, “I write what I want to read but can’t find.”  There’s a pretty good chance that, unless you have the great misfortune of horrendous taste, if you’d like to read something that you can’t find, someone else is looking for the same thing.  That means you already have an audience.  That’s secret 2.5:  write for that audience.

Third, read, read, read.  You probably want to write because you’ve liked things you read.  Read so you don’t repeat what someone else has written, and read so that you know how good writers put words together.

Fourth, and here’s another powerful one.  I was going through notices in an old copy of one of the many useful Writer’s Digest publications, I think it was the Poet’s Market.  The editor for one of magazines listed there gave this advice:  when you submit something to this magazine, reward me for the irreplaceable living time I’ll spend reading it.  Yes:  spot on.  Always reward your reader for the kindness he or she shows you in reading your work, whether it’s published or not.

I hope you’ve found something rewarding here.  If not, I’ll try to do better next time.  And thanks for sharing your living-time.