Unorthodox Writing Tips 33 – Be Voracious, Be Prolific
I’m writing this on the day that Ray Bradbury died. Some of the best writing advice I ever got was from his little book, Zen and the Art of Writing. It has little to do with Zen, a lot to do with writing. Some of Ray’s biggest advice that I took to heart was to write as much as possible as often as possible. And read. Don’t just read, but READ! Anything and everything. If you can get you hands on it, read it. Read inside your genre, outside your genre, read good books, bad books, magazines, anything. And write whatever your brain decides it wants to write. The only person that can put limits on your creativity is you.
Be voracious: I’ve said this in posts before and I’ve said it different ways. If you want to be a good writer you need to read as much as humanly possible. I read multiple blogs about a variety of topics. I read comic books. I read science fiction, steampunk, fantasy, urban fantasy, romance, erotica, alternate history, horror, biographies, autobiographies, research papers, shampoo bottles. Heck , if it’s got words on it, I’ll take a look. I don’t always like what I read, but I read far more than people know. This year I’ve committed to reading and writing as much as I possibly can. If a day goes by that I don’t read or write I feel like a little bit of me has died. I try to make up for it the next day. I currently have 160 books on my kindle (unread). I’m sure I’ll add more. I also have 5 magazine subscriptions. I will get through all of it and if I run into something that I just can’t read, I have no trouble with putting it aside and moving on to something else.
I’m a voracious reader. I can’t tell you home many times I’ve read a story and thought “I’d do that a little differently” or “There’s a hole here, I’d think it should be filled in.” I’ll do that all the time. I’ve also downloaded a lot of free ebooks lately giving many indie publishers a try and a lot of them are awful, but some are pretty good. I would have never found them if I hadn’t given them a shot. But all this reading gives me encouragement that I to can do this writing thing if only I commit myself.
Be Prolific: I don’t limit myself. Yes, I’ve set daily goals and I try to meet those daily goals, but sometimes I miss. I don’t beat myself up over it. Life it going to happen. But I do try and get back on track and keep at it. I know I’ll most likely never have a full day to just sit and write and I don’t expect that. I do think that I’ll have free time here or a lunch break, or time right before I go to bed, or I’ll get up a little early and try to get some words down. Every little bit helps and adds up faster than you would think. As I write this I’m coming up on 240,000 words on the year and mostly likely when you read it I’ll be over 250,000. I’m not writing at breakneck speed by doing 10,000 words a day in a 20 hour marathon session. I’m writing for 1-2 hours a day almost every day. Some days I’ll get in 3-4, but those are rare. I’ve started to type much faster so I can get words out a lot quicker than I used to.
I also don’t limit myself when it comes to what I’m writing about. My stories are all over the map and I love that. It helps when I’m working on anything in that I can bring a little something from one piece, mix it with another, cross genres, blend character traits, merge story lines. Basically I have a lot of fun when I do sit down and write. I have a fair idea of what works and what doesn’t work in a story and I let it go from there. By reading as much as I do it’s easy to bring in a new idea or concept into an idea that I might not have fully formed in my head and run with it.
Because of Ray Bradbury I’ve released the bonds of my own creativity. I try my best to not get locked down and not let something happen in a story because of preconceived notions. I let my mind run wild and fix the story if I think things have gotten a little out of control. Like I said, I’m only limited by my own imagination. Once you start to read as much as you can and write as often as your schedule allows you’ll find it easier and easier to write more and more.
Once upon a time I had a story idea. It was my only story idea. I wrote that book, but I read more books. I worried about what would happen when I finished that story. What would happen to my creativity well? Would I ever be able to write something else? Reading as much as I have and writing as often as I now am I have a new fear. I’ll never be able to bring all the stories I have in my head to fruition. I have so many ideas, characters, plots, snippets of story that no matter how fast I write, I’ll never get caught up with them all. More come to my head every day and those that stick for more than a couple of days, I write down so I don’t lose them. I’m glad I’ve got a file for this because I’ve got over 100 different ideas and the list keeps going.
Don’t put limits on yourself. Be voracious. Be prolific.
Until next time!