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My Advice to Aspiring Authors

15 March 2013

From Hugh Howey:

I’ll start by knocking the ego right out of the lungs of this thing and say that what works for one author may not work for another. I’ll also say that this is a massive topic and could easily lead to me writing a book. Not that I will. For both of these reasons, this blog post is going to ramble and often contradict itself.

. . . .

First off: If you want to become a writer in order to be rich and famous like me, that’s a bad idea. It isn’t why I started writing, and it isn’t why you should start writing. You should write because you love it. But I imagine you’ll want an audience (what artist doesn’t?) And so my advice is geared toward helping authors get to the end of their manuscript, polish it to perfection, and then gain the widest readership possible. This is the best you can hope for. I think it’s possible for every writer who gives it their all.

To begin with, you need to write. This seems axiomatic because it is. The only way to amass a pile of words into a book is to shovel some every single day. No days off. You have to form this habit; without it you are screwed.

. . . .

Secondly, learn to write rough. Stop caring about spelling and sentence fragments and plot holes and grammar. Get the story down. Listen to the dialog and try to keep up with your fingers. Get to the end of your manuscript and THEN worry about the quality. If you can master the art of powering through to the end of your story, you are on your way.

Link to the rest at Hugh Howey and thanks to Merrill for the tip.

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8 Comments to “My Advice to Aspiring Authors”

  1. That was a very nice piece he wrote and all of it was very true.

  2. God bless you, Hugh Howey. Now when people ask me the same kind of question I can just point them to this excellent article, thus allowing me to be the lazy bastard I so naturally am.

  3. Hugh’s piece is a classic, one of the finest condensations of great advice to writers that I’ve read anywhere. I’ve pointed my Facebook and Twitter followers to it, and I hope it gets the widest possible attention.

  4. Nice article. I especially like this;

    “I’m going to explain why every author should begin their writing career self-publishing, even if their dream is to be with a large publisher”.

    And he backs that up. Well thought out post!

  5. I really liked this part:

    “I’m not the story. I’ve been hammering this point over and over, and people are finally starting to listen. The outliers are not the self-publishing story. It’s the midlisters. I’m begging Amazon to release a different set of stats than the ones currently bandied about. They advertise how many bestsellers and blockbusters they have. I’m dying to know how many people are making $100 a month, $300 a month, $500 a month. I wager there are thousands and thousands of writers making $1,000 a month. That’s the real story, not me. Stay tuned.”

  6. Michael E. Walston

    My best advice on how to form this habit [of writing regularly] is twofold: Get comfortable staring at a blank screen and not writing. This is a skill. If you can not write and avoid filling that time with distractions, you’ll get to the point where you start writing. Open your manuscript and just be with it.

    Secondly, learn to write rough. Stop caring about spelling and sentence fragments and plot holes and grammar. Get the story down. Listen to the dialog and try to keep up with your fingers. Get to the end of your manuscript and THEN worry about the quality. If you can master the art of powering through to the end of your story, you are on your way.

    Wow.

    Just, wow. When the dust settles, I think Howies’s Suggestions are gonna be right up there with Heinlein’s rules. This is potent stuiff

  7. The art of powering through a story–so true. It’s why I tried Nanowrimo again, so I could quick nitpicking and get the first draft down. Great advice.

  8. This post is fantastic. It’s so good, I’m going to go read it again.

    I love the part where he brings up the midlisters on Amazon. YES, this is the real story. How many writers are making a full time or part time living off their writing? That’s a real measure of success, not the very few who are making $1 million and up.

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