Very Seldom Do You Get a Stage Four Writer Being Honest…

Most either play into the myths for fear of hurting their own writing sales or they say nothing. Some figure their way of doing things is just their way and would never work for anyone else.

But Joe Lansdale, in a very simple article, sort of carefully told the truth about his writing.

If you haven’t read it yet either from an original source or my earlier post, do so now.

The Rules of Being a Professional Writer

He started off by giving only two simple rules that I completely agree with. One, you must read. Second, you must write.

It stuns me how many writers miss on both of these and yet claim they want to be professional writers. Can’t begin to tell you how many newer writers I run into that flat don’t read or haven’t read since they started trying to write.

And it stuns me even more (a topic around here regularly) how new writers think they can write very little, work on the same book for ten years, and get better. Doesn’t work that way. As Joe said, you must read and you must write.

Two simple rules.

He then goes on to talk about things that help. He starts off “You have to be excited about what you write.” I call that never writing to market unless you are passionate about the topic of the market. Write what you love, what entertains you. Or as Stephen King says, what scares you to death. Passion, excitement. Joe and I agree completely once again.

I say it in other ways as well. I warn people to keep the writing fun, keep the life events out of the writing, never call writing work. I spend a lot more time and words saying what Joe said simply. He’s good that way.

He tells you to not quit your day job at first. Yup. Kris’s column is about that this week in a way. Writing is a long-term learning experience, both on the business and the craft sides. Give it the time. Don’t put pressure on it at first.

Joe says he has a regular schedule, does regular pages.

And he flat says he avoids multiple drafts. That they confuses him. Yup, they confuse and bore me as well. And he had to learn how to teach himself to write when he traveled. You folks just watched me do that. (grin)

His “polish” at the end, as he says, is seldom a heavy rewrite. I agree. I fix typos and things Kris finds and cut out loops that don’t work. That’s my polish. Doesn’t take long and I agree, I never make any change Kris suggests that I don’t agree with.

And he doesn’t plot and he writes from his own life. Yup. Took a long time for Kris to pound through my head that my strongest stories were set right here in the world I know.

And he ends by saying to never write for other people. “Write like everyone you know is dead.”

Exactly. Write what makes you happy.

And damn, I think I just spent more words agreeing with Joe than he used writing the article. Go figure. (grin)