One of my favorite self-nurturing activities involves jammies, coffee, and the Sunday New York Times. But today is Saturday, and I found an equal treasure this morning: jammies, coffee, and the September issue of Writer’s Digest: “the Big 10 issue.” There are many excellent articles that I won’t highlight in this post (like “10 Ways to Write What You ‘No’” by Bill O’Hanlon, who writes about using frustration, hurt and anger to fuel your writing) out of sheer economy of space. Instead, I’m going to glean my “Top 10” from WD’s “Takes Ten.” Let me explain:
Writer’s Digest interviewed 10 bestselling authors, asking them each a different question: to discuss their “top 10” in a certain category. So, from their 100 answers, I’m offering my “top 10”… one from each author. Here goes.
Erik Larson was asked for his top 10 “Essentials to a Writer’s Life.” My favorite was his Number 9: “A Trusted Reader: Every writer I know has at least one friend or partner who can be trusted to read early drafts of a book and provide an accurate, constructive critique….”
Jodi Picoult was asked to name her top 10 “Writers I Admire, and Why.” My choice? Jodi’s Number 8: “Charles Dickens: I like to think he created the genre I write in: moral and ethical fiction. You tell a story about compelling characters, and somehow, through the back door, you get your reader thinking about tough issues that most of us would prefer not to discuss.”
Ellen Hopkins was asked for the top 10 “Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming a Bestseller.” I like Ellen’s Number 3: “Write Bravely. Because my readership is labeled ‘young adult,’ the content in my books is often challenged. The subject matter is difficult, but I refuse to sugarcoat issues like addiction, abuse, prostitution, suicide, etc….”
Sherman Alexie was asked for his top 10 “Pieces of Writing Advice I’ve Been Given.” Here’s my favorite, his Number 2: “Subscribe to as many literary journals as you can afford.”
Mary Higgins Clark’s Top 10 “Things Every Writer Should Do” includes her 10th entry: “Don’t hold a grudge! Instead, make the guy who was mean to you a victim in your next book.”
Chuck Palahniuk’s assignment was to list the top 10 “Things That Would Make the Writing World a Better Place.” Lots of humor in all his answers, including Number 3: “Printer ink cartridges should cost less than the original purchase price of the damned printer.”
Wade Rouse’s question was his top 10 “Ways to Stay True to Yourself in Publishing.” Here’s his Number 5: “Write is Always Might. Dance with the one who brought you to the ball: Write. As much as possible.”
Jennifer Chiaverini’s assignment was to name her top 10 “Hints For a Successful Series.” (You can read her entire interview here.) Her Number 6: “Write about what you want to learn about. Are you fascinated by history, intrigued by current events or excited by new technology? Satisfy your curiosity by taking a class, visiting a historical site, interviewing an expert.”
Kirby Larson’s Top 10 “Things Every Aspiring Writer Should Know” included my personal favorite, her Number 2: “One of the measures of creativity is ‘output.’ Debunk the myth that a writer should write only when she is moved or inspired. A piece of writing is created by sitting down each day and writing. You really can create on demand once you’ve decided not to be taken hostage by that part of your brain that’s demanding you update your Facebook page, fold laundry or answer e-mail as it comes in.”
Karin Slaughter’s Top 10 “Ways to Stay Sane When Frustrated With Your Writing” kept me in stitches, including her Number 1: “Sometimes, when I’m cutting a deadline too close, I’ll set the Timer on the Stove and tell myself I’ll write for at least an hour. Rarely have I heard the chime and wanted to stop. And I always feel good about actually using the stove for something.”
Don’t these mouth-watering morsels make you want more? Read all 10 interviews and decide which of the 100 suggestions made by these 10 authors are your favorites. And then, if you’re a writer, sit down and write!
[P.S. I’m celebrating 3 years of blogging this week. My first post was back in August of 2007. This is my 461st post today. I've averaged 3 posts/week for three years! Thanks so much for reading! Cheers!]