Friday, March 16, 2012

Daily Magic

There are two things a writer should do every day.

1.Write

2.Read

I don’t mean six days a week. I don’t mean everyday but holidays and your birthday. I mean every day. Even if you’re travelling on planes, catching the bus across the country, getting married, or producing your own weight in mucus from a flu. You should always have a book with you, you should always have a notepad and pen with you.

The ONLY excuse I will accept for not writing is that you just had eye surgery and your eyes are bandaged. I mean, that wouldn’t stop me, but I’m willing to concede you might be a wuss. If you are going to have eye surgery, I assume you’ve already prepared some audio books. You can also ‘read’ in the car with audio books. They have them at libraries. They’re free. So again, no excuses.

I wrote with my skin rotting off—when I had been packed in ice for four weeks and hadn’t slept for about the same. I was hallucinating and delirious, but I was still writing. I wrote in the ER one night when I was rushed to the Saint Alfred Hospital. Any excuse you have is not good enough.

I’m not saying you have to read or write a huge quantity. Just a little bit, everyday, is enough to add up to a lot at the end of the year. I’m going to set your minimum writing goal at 100. 100 words a day before midnight, without fail. It doesn’t seem like much—but it’s the habit, not the word count, which is important. Most days, you will only get that 100. But days when you have a little spare time and you’re feeling good, you’ll get a lot more. And even if you don’t, at least you for 100 words, which is 100 more than nothing.

Habitually writing everyday is the most powerful tool you can give yourself.

Because if you DO make it, you will have to be able to do that. You have to be able to produce a consistent quality, even on your bad days.

Once you get the writing experience, you will find you can do just that. But if you aren’t habitually writing EVERYDAY, you’ll find it hard to get started.

Reading is critical if you want to make it as a writer. Even if you’re not thinking about it, you’re absorbing lessons on style and craft. Reading also creates new pathways in the brain—and the more pathways you have, the easier it is to write.

You should read things you like. You should read in the genres you want to write. You should also read everything else. For all writers I recommend psychology text books, as many as you can find. Also, any books you can find on better writing craft, signing with an agent and getting published. Read books about boats, knots, rock climbing, crimes, taxidermy, biographies, history, best sellers, children’s books, gardening, cooking, cheese making...

When reading to specifically to research your genre, read books published in the last two years. Anything older is probably no longer relevant to what is happening in that genre, from a publishing perspective. So many people tell me they perceive a genre as being something it hasn’t been since the 80s. Then I wonder where they have been for the last thirty years and if they REALLY haven’t read anything in that genre since gremlins came out.

If you have not read five or six books in any given genre in the past two years, you don’t know what you’re talking about. End of story.

So what are you going to do today?

1. Write

2. Read

Copyright. Talitha Kalago. 2010.

Edited 2012.

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