Thursday, January 12, 2006

A few of the handy writing tips I learned from Neil Gaiman

1. Write things out in longhand. According to Neil, writing things out in longhand has the tendency to tighten prose--when you get around to typing out everything you wrote, you're far more inclined to look at four pages of crap as four pages of crap, skip it, and pick up typing again where the prose gets good. 2. Write without distractions. If you are a clever writer like Neil and have several bestselling novels, comics and story collections under your belt, you have a cabin on a mind-numbingly dull lake you can go to in order to write. Once you are there, sit down and allow yourself to do one of two things: write, or absolutely nothing at all. Nothing. No reading, no phonecalls, no doodling. Nothing. "After about three-and-a-half minutes of looking at that lake," he said, "you start to write in self-defense." 3. It's okay to sit on good story ideas until you feel you're up to writing them. If by chance, even after several years as a bestselling author, you still aren't sure you're good enough, well, start writing anyway, because you probably won't get much better. I actually hate writing things out longhand; I haven't been able to keep a written journal for more than a few days ever, because I just can't be bothered to sit around scrawling things out. Hell, I'm already more adept at texting with Angus than at handwriting. But maybe if I had handwritten the first 15 pages of that novel I've been working on since forever, I'd have chucked them and written a new intro chapter a long time ago. I love the cabin-writing anecdote, but I fear I actually could do nothing but look at a lake for hours on end. It would, in fact, be my defense against writing, god help me. Then again, I haven't seen his lake. As for that last bit...yeah, I'm off to get started. Toodles and what have you.


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