After 6 years of writing, and 10 books, and over a million words, I have compiled a list of mottos to write by.
I’ve heard a lot of rules. And read a lot of writing books. And done a lot of writing courses. You can get so overwhelmed with all that information! I believe you need it all. But afterwards, you get to make your own list. (And that’s a lot of fun.)
1. Never say more then is necessary. (Richard Brinsley Sheridan)
2. You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. (Ray Bradbury)
I know people say, “Stop dreamin’! You write so much you don’t know reality from fake.” Real or not real, Peeta? I believe (with all my neuron endings) that it’s better to be happy in a fantasy then crying in a reality.
(That saying, everyone needs reality checks.)
3. The road to hell is paved with adverbs. (Stephan King)
I believe it! When I first heard the “don’t use adverbs” rule, I laughed. I scoffed. I sneered. (All very elegantly, of course, and behind the safety of my laptop screen.) But, the advice grew on me. While I use adverbs like anything on the blog (thusly awesomely), I kill them in my writing. It makes my writing stronger.
I don’t just say “he said sadly” anymore. I show you how he is sad and then he just says and you feel his agony as he says it.
4. You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. (Jack London)
If I waited until I was inspired. I’d never write. I wouldn’t. Usually I get inspired for my book when I’m 40K in. Why? Because I can see the ending and I know I’ll be done soon. (That’s a horrible thing to admit. But I love the finish product more then the journey. I admit it.)
I write books I know are bad. I write ideas I know don’t work. But I write and then those ideas do work, or they get better. And then I’m happy.
5. Respect your dream. (Jill Williamson)
Maybe people like what I write. Maybe they don’t. But I don’t even want that to stop me writing.
6. Read, read, read. Read everything… (William Faulkner)
I believe I’m not a writer if I’m ignorant. I read the famous stuff. I read the not-so-famous stuff. I read the controversial ones, too. Basically, if it’s YA (which is what I write) I attempt to read it. I want to be well-read, so I don’t write something someone else has written.
And also, reading makes you write better.
7. If you wrote from experience, you’d get one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy. (Nikki Giovanni)
I write about a lot of stuff I’ve never done. (For instance: sword fighting. And fixing broken robots.) Heck! I write about people who are insane, and who have lost someone or something. I write about worlds exploding. I’ve never been on an exploding planet! And how is it possible for me to write 10 books, with different characters? Am I 10 people? (Don’t even say it, Mime. I’m not schizophrenic.)
I imagine and empathise. Then I write.
8. “Words,” he said, “is oh such a twitch-tickling problem to me all my life.” (Roald Dahl, The BFG)
My first drafts suck. They’re horrible. Sometimes I write 60,000-words of a story and I hate it. I hate it so much I want to cry and give up writing. But then I rewrite those 60,000-words, and they turn into 80,000-words that I like. Then I rewrite it again, and it turns into 70,000-words I feel are acceptable.
I always hate what I write. At first.
9. I’m a story teller. If I wanted to send a message I would have written a sermon. (Philip Pullman)
I don’t want my stories to get lost in lessons. For a while, I got really hung up about lessons and morals in my books. (It was around book 4 of my fantasy series.) I wanted everyone to learn something! And grow! And the readers be changed by my miraculous realisations! Well, one person did learn something: me. Don’t write a message. Write a book.
So I just tell stories now. Mime points out the messages to me later, and they’re so much more natural then my dedicated little sermons.
(For instance. The moral of my book SIX is: eat while you’re still alive. I believe this will change everyone’s life.)
10. “People love a happy ending. So every episode, I will explain once again that I don’t like people.” (Joss Whedon)
This is the motto that I remind myself of again and again. Why? Because I forget it and try to write something for someone else. I need to write first for myself (otherwise my heart won’t be in it) and then I need to write for my readers. Me first. It’s not a selfish thing.
It’s like Roald Dahl says in The Fantastic Mr. Fox: “I understand what you’re saying, and your comments are valuable, but I’m gonna ignore your advice.”
If I have writers block, or I’m uncertain about something in my books. I say this:
And then I write what I want.
Cait is home alone again. With the dishes. She ought to be doing them, but she’s blogging instead. She’s totally hung-over from watching Catching Fire (which is the best movie of the century). She is 20K into her sci-fi book. Now she will explode the ship. Live long and prosper while you can, dear book.