Sunday, November 15, 2015

About Writing

I believe I'm supposed to offer up three bits of advice about writing, the ones I find the most inspirational.

I'll give that a try, but to be fair I'm on deadline crunches so I'll probably paraphrase.

first I'll give you the quote that I hear most often because I say it the most often: "Write The Damn Book."

What do I mean? I mean stop giving yourself excuses or a pass or a reason to do something else.
Stop loving your baby so much it hurts.

Listen the number one thing I see writers do again and again that cripples them, absolutely ruins them and their dreams alike, is not finish what they've started. Near as I can tell, it's fear that does them in. If you don;t finish what you've worked on, you can't writers get criticized for not doing it the right way.

Ladies and gentlemen, THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY. Buy a hundred books on writing by a hundred of your favorite writers and most of what you're going to get out of reading them as that they're either bluffing their way through this, think they're bluffing their way through this, or have egos so large that they KNOW their way is the best. The reality of the situation is, honestly, that you have to work whatever way works best for you.

Having said that, WRITE THE DAMN BOOK! It's not going to write itself. I'll use my old favorite image again. Sisyphus and the rock. His punishment for his sins was to roll a gigantic boulder up a hill every day for eternity, only to have it roll back down at the end of the day.

Your writing is that bolder. Us the momentum you have and out think Sisyphus. Don't rest halfway up, but instead push on. What I mean by that is simplicity itself: Don;t go back and edit chapter one when you should be writing chapter five.

"But Jim, I need to make changes to the manuscript because I thought that Point A was the right plot device and now I realize I should have gone with Point C." Fine. Write yourself a note and move on.

We live in a wondrous age, where we can correct what we've written on the computer. We don't have to retype the entire thing. Instead,w e can correct and move on. So, make a note about the changes, put it in the manuscript itself at the appropriate spot. Do it in caps and italicized to make sure you don;t miss it. "POINT A IS WRONG. FIX WITH POINT C." AND MOVE ON.That's why
we have a second draft of our works.

When you have finished teh first draft, set it aside, work on something else for a few weeks and then go back and fix what is wrong.

next up Winston Churchill will cement my pioint for me, but with more eloquence.

What that means is exactly what it says. You can't finish if you let yourself get distracted. From time to time things will happen in your life that will, frankly, take precedence over your writing. Your family, your loved ones, that desperate need to go away for a few weeks to recharge your mental and emotional batteries. Those are all good reasons. But if you keep finding reasons, like binge-watching your favorite series on Netflix for the third time, or taking up knitting as a new hobby, then you might consider that you really don;t want to be a writer in a serious way. 
I know people whoa re still writing their first novel, and it's been fifteen years. Sorry, but barring a major life altering event that has been going on for fifteen years, you are either procrastinating or lack the conviction to finish what you started. Might be time to move on. 

And for number three I give you Kevin Spacey reciting lines somebody else wrote for him but that are still awesome lines: It's not a competition along those lines, folks. I have never once in my career felt that the only way to move forward was on the backs of my "enemies."

It's just decency. If someone wants your help and you can give it without crushing yourself under the weight of the offered assistance, you should. You should also pay attention to the italicized part. There are people out there who, if you offer a helping hand, will promptly latch on and ask you to do all of the heavy lifting. Nope. A little guidance, an occasional boost, but mostly you can point a finger in the rigth direction.

That might sound harsh, but I have a LOT of people who would love for me to 1) read their manuscript (and if I could do it during my down time at the con, that would be great!) 2) Introduce them to my publishers/editors (and I am glad to, provided they have written a legible manuscript and have acted professionally.) 3) go over the entire draft with them and fix everything until it is at professional levels.

Want to know something? I have done all three at different times. For people who are actually writers. Want to know something else? People have done it for me. I like working that way a lot more than I like trying to knock people down while I try to get up. It's utterly unnecessary.

James A. Moore


  1. A great third point, Spacey's quote is great. I've been able to mentor and guide in my professional life and someday I will be able to as a writer too.

    Hmm...I guess I had better go write that damn book. Thanks for sending me back to the trenches!

  2. Spacey's quote is my favorite too. (:

  3. Spacey's quote is pure magic. And Alexia, you're welcome. i look forward to the day when I can READ your published novel.