Friday, December 14, 2007

Writing = Ass + Chair

Newsarama has an interview with crime novelist Duane Swierczynski and his upcoming one shot take on the Punisher. Sounds like an intriguing story, one that I'll check out. However, it was this excerpt from the interview that got my attention as he was asked about advice for aspiring writers:

DS: I have three pieces of advice. (Aren’t you sorry you asked?)

One: read your face off. Saying you want to be a writer, but don’t read much is like saying you want to be alive, but don’t breathe much.

Two, follow Joe Lansdale’s equation: Writing = ass + chair. You need time with your butt in that seat every day, without fail. It doesn’t have to be hours and hours. If you can spare 30 minutes and write 250 words a day, you’ll have a 90,000 word manuscript in a year. In some circles, that’s considered prolific.

I have a filing cabinet full of half and partial novels—abandoned because I didn’t have the discipline to finish ‘em. So in the summer of 1998, I decided to stop being a pantywaist and actually finish a damn book. I vowed to write 1,000 words a day for three months until I had a complete novel. Didn’t matter if it sucked or not; I just needed to finish. And three months later, right according to schedule, I finished a first draft. And while the book was far from perfect, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. (Eventually it saw the light of day as Secret Dead Men.) But I don’t think I would have ever finished it if I had only worked on it when I felt like it.

Finally, my last piece of advice: pay attention to everything around you. Once you train your mind to accept story ideas—be it from the newspaper, a couple walking down the street, or some jackass you saw on the subway—believe me, they’ll keep coming, fast and furious. The brain’s funny that way.

He's right, of course. Can't be a writer without writing - good, bad, or ugly, and you need to read just to find all the different ways of using words. And he's right about the ideas too. I'm always getting ideas for a story, just not getting them to go anywhere.

Think I'll have to put ass into chair and see what happens...

Comments on "Writing = Ass + Chair"


post a comment