Earlier this month, I had the good fortune to attend the Annual World Mystery Convention’s annual reader-author conference, better known as Bouchercon.
Being both reader and writer, I veered between those roles in my attentiveness to authors talking about why and how they wrote their respective books (in many cases, series of books).
Here are a few tips I picked up on the writing life — something I’m working on daily with intermittent success:
- Good writers read regularly and aren’t afraid to read a wide spectrum of genres.
- Every writer has his or her own process, but: having a writing routine is an essential building block.
- Figuring out what process works for you can involve testing and rejecting patterns — up early and writing before anything else happens (a la Elmore Leonard); or waiting until the family is asleep and grabbing 15 minutes on weeknights, a few hours stolen from each weekend; or something in between.
- Whatever you write needs, like bread, a period of rest and inattention before editing begins.
- The best work is well-edited. In the words of so many editors and Stephen King: “Kill your darlings.”
- Editing is a process best left until you finish what working writers refer to as “the shitty first draft.”
- If you don’t start writing, you’ll have nothing to edit and nothing to publish.
- Done is better than perfect.
- You’ll never satisfy every reader. In fact, you’ll probably disappoint or even offend some or all. Write anyway.