Feb 5, 2011

how to become a better writer

1. Care about your writing.
Everything that follows depends on this. Care so hard it hurts. In fact, if you are not in physical pain every time you pick up a pen, you don't care enough. Journalist and all-around savant Gene Fowler describes writing thusly: "All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead." If you think he was exaggerating, you are obviously a no-talent hack.

2. Endlessly revise.
Perfect your work. Keep at it until they have to drag you away from your last draft, clawing at the last adverb  that mars your masterpiece. This ensures that you will never publish anything, cementing your reputation as an unsung genius.

3. Find and keep good readers.
Treasure them, by which I mean, stuff them in a box in the back of a closet somewhere. You want them reading only your work, not anyone else's.

4. Read voraciously.
Sir Francis Bacon once said that truly great books were meant to be chewed and digested. Invest in a stomach upgrade and a set of titanium teeth and make this happen.

5. Write in different modes.
You can't just publish a novel first thing. Start small: carve a letter into a tree trunk. ("Z" isn't a bad choice, if your name is Zorro.) Move on to bathroom walls, which not only builds an audience, but develops your rhyming skills. From there, in ascending order of importance, it's Twitter, blogs, advice columns, ad copy, Atlantic short stories, New Yorker cartoons, novellas, Wikipedia updates, manifestos, horoscopes, celebrity obituaries, limericks, novels, trilogies, and ransom notes.

6. On second thought, get a disciple to do it for you.
Do what Jesus, Socrates, and the Buddha did: write nothing down yourself. The downside, of course, is that your ideas may be misunderstood, misappropriated, or pureed beyond recognition. The upside is huge, though: you'll attract groupies while maintaining plausible deniability.

1 comment:

Monica said...

See, Mr. Anderson, this is why I keep coming back to your blog; not only are you the LD supergod, but you also keep the humor up with your intelligently entertaining posts. Keep up the fabulous work!