For Writers Who Aspire to Inspire

Posted on 25th April 2004 by Ryan Somma in Mediaphilism

Here’s my compilation of various resources in which I think writers might be interested. They are in no particular order or categorization.

The Literary Market Place

Get to your public library first thing in the morning to get your hands on this book. Otherwise all of the other writer’s in your local community will grab it for the day. It lists all the publishers and all the agents for all categories and genres of literature.

Stephen King, “On Writing”

I have a confession to make: I am not a Stephen King fan. His books do not stick with me and I find his stories anti-climactic, but I will say this about him: He is still an incredible writer. He also has almost thirty-year’s worth of experience in the trade. This book is a must read for writing with the goal of publication and perfecting your craft.

Holly Lisle, “Forward Motion for Writers”

Not many people would consider Holly Lisle a successful writer. She barely ekes out a living for herself through her trade, but she does live off being a writer, and that’s far more than the vast majority of writer’s can claim. On her website she provides essays on every possible aspect of writing for making a living at writing. Her business sense is impeccable and whatever you think of her writing, the invaluable resources she provides online is incredibly generous.

David Brin, “A Long, Lonely Road: Some Informal Advice to New Authors”

Brin has become one of my favorite authors and I love his non-fiction articles best. So of course, I love his suggestions in this essay on writing.

My Personal Advice to Writers

Don’t major in English, Creative Writing, or Journalism

You know what I learned in my English major? I learned that comma splices will cause me to fail Renaissance Lit. Did I stop comma splicing because of this “F”? No. Why? Because I love to comma splice. That’s how I write.

Take an interesting major, like biology, psychology, computer science, so that you’ll have something to write about. You can learn the writing craft through your electives, and while you’re trying to make it as a writer, you can do something profitable, like me becoming a web-programmer.

Peer Reviews

I don’t have a problem with peer reviews, but I have a problem with the way teachers handle them. Teachers use peer reviews to get out of grading your papers, because they aren’t paid enough to supply you with the attention you need, so they pass the buck to your fellow, equally unqualified peers.

Ask for peer reviews from people you know, trust, and respect. Even a bad suggestion can give you insight. Give all opinions some thought.

Write All the Time

“There are people who run like gazelles and there are those who run like plow horses. I’m a plow horse,” as my father used to say. Writing is the same way, but we have days when we are like gazelles, lightly bouncing through new prose with ease, and days when we are plow horses, trudging through the work with one eye on the page count with the sole purpose of meeting our daily goal. Either way we are making progress.

Writing is like exercise, you have to do it. If you want to be an athlete, you have to run. If you want to be a writer, you have to write. If you wait around for inspiration, you’ll never go anywhere. Start trudging through it now.

Other Items of Interest

National Novel Writing Month

Why do people run marathons? To reach the finish line. That’s how I view NaNoWriMo, as a marathon. Your goal is to write an entire novel in one month. Forget about spelling, form, punctuation, or any of that superfluous nonsense. You are to reach the finish line, huffing and puffing, fingers aching, but with the accomplishment of one finished manuscript in your hands and knowing you can make it better at your convenience.

Open Source Novel

Science Fiction author Rick Heller has taken a chance on this idea, placing his novel “Smart Genes” online for the World Wide Web to read, make suggestions, and edit. An experiment for which I am anxious to see the results.

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