How to write (really)

Posted on | September 7, 2008

I’m going to give away my secret for writing. If you ask a writer for his secret he’ll just tell you “Write. Sit down and write. Every day.” That’s actually about 80% of what it takes to be a writer. There’s 20% that writers always seem to forget to give away.

Here’s the extra secret: Yes, you have to write every day. But you also have to think about what you just wrote. Let’s say you write in the morning. That evening, you must re-read what you wrote and answer this question: “What was I trying to do with this passage?”

If you can answer that question, then you’re on your way to writing a story. The answer could be anything, like “I was trying to confuse the reader,” or “I was trying to get the two characters into bed,” or “I was trying to lay down some hints about what’s coming in chapter nine.” As long as you have an answer, no matter what it is, you’ve written something worthwhile. Now you have to ask yourself if you succeeded. If so, tomorrow you get to write more. If not, you throw it out and try again.

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