Author Elmore Leonard, who died this week at the age of 87, is well known for turning out gritty crime novels—many of which were made into popular movies including Get Shorty.
Leonard frequently shared writing tips and granted interviews, including the one below about his story-writing process, that usually begins with a character-related idea.
In this next short clip, Leonard talks about his writing schedule:
In my next post, I’ll discuss what I learned about writing dialogue by reading Elmore Leonard. What are some of your favorite Leonard books?
Author Walter Mosley’s book “This Year You Write Your Novel” is chock full of great tips for doing just that.
Some writers create rituals for their writing: lighting a candle, working in a certain place, listening to a favorite playlist, writing with a special pen. Mosley says his only ritual is that he writes every morning.
“The only thing that matters is that you write, write, write. It doesn’t have to be good writing. As a matter of fact, almost all first drafts are pretty bad. What matters is that you get down the words on the page or the screen—or into the tape recorder, if you work like that.”
The next morning, he reads over what he wrote the day before—making minor edits but mostly to get back in the flow of his story. Some days will be rough and unbearable and others will feel sublime as if the words are flowing from a spring of inspiration. Mosley says to ignore these feelings, either way. Happy or sad, the story has to come out.
“Stick to your schedule. Try to write a certain amount every day—let’s say somewhere between 600 and 1,200 words. Do not labor over what’s been written. Go over yesterday’s work cursorily to reorient yourself, then move on.”
In this manner, he says, a first draft can be done in three months and what you will have in front of you is the “heart of the book.” From this heart, you will rewrite and polish and edit until you have your finished story.
But the most important part is getting that first draft down. To see what else Mosley has to say about writing your novel in a year, check out his book. He packs more tips and wisdom into one hundred pages, than some tomes I’ve read.
Years ago, I would meet a friend each morning before work to go for a walk and talk at a nearby high school track. We both wanted to exercise, but we had crazy, unpredictable work days. We figured out that we could exercise in the morning without interruptions. I rarely ever missed the walk because I knew she would be waiting for me and vice versa. We discovered that this bit of accountability was a powerful tool for success.
The support of a like-minded friend can go a long way towards meeting your goals, whether they’re fitness, business, or writing aspirations.
So I was intrigued when I read Suzanne Main’s blog post, A Whine, a Wine and Writer’s Nights, about her new writing buddy. All our competing projects, work, and family demands can easily eat through our day even with the best of intentions. So Main and her friend began meeting a couple times a week to write. They don’t critique, share work, or even talk much. Just write. Read more