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‘What is Your Advice for A New Writer?’
Portland Joe Asks the Crackpot after Beating Him Up: 12/26/2022
© 2023 James LaFond
MAY/30/23
Driving back to Portland in the sodden rain from sparring with British National, Joe asked:
“James, a friend of mine is a writer and I referred him to your site. What is your advice for a new writer, if you can encapsulate it. Also, should he use a pen name. I realize you boldly write under your own name. But would you recommend that for a young writer in this current climate?”
This is easy, and I would suggest to Joe’s friend to approach writing like Joe has approached fighting, through self-discipline and daily training.
-1. Write every day, especially when you are sick or don’t feel well. Currently, to rest my bad eye and to travel, I am only writing 25 to 27 days a month. I’m on the downside of the process. Climbing into the writing saddle you need practice.
-2. For fiction use your own name. For political and social commentary use a pen name.
-3. Publish every week, which means setting up an electronic platform, a site. This will build readership and give you feedback. If you publish less then once a week you will lose readers. Ideally, publish every day. That is how I got half of my readers and how the Zman, a very successful writer, built his readership.
-4. You want writers as readers, this is a measure of your standing among your peers. Also, thinking of your readers as a readership and as writers, will encourage you to respect them more and make positive self censorship calls. I do self censor. When we are our own publisher we need to censor our self to avoid the iron heel as well as the mob’s squeal.
-5. Serialize a portion of your work in front of a pay wall and put conclusions behind the pay wall. This gets you out there and builds printable content.
-6. If I was starting fiction writing now, I would just do 44 to 72 page quarterly print releases, then annually do a full size omnibus.
-7. Do not seek a publishing house. In order to be accepted you will have to compromise your vision, and, most importantly, you will have to write books worth of promotional material about your work, which is degrading to the creative process.
-8. For nonfiction, write dissenting opinions of your own majority opinions. In fiction, do the same by writing the bad guys with empathy and even sympathy. This will help you very much.
-9. Find a completion ritual. For me, after I finish a book I get drunk and then the next day don’t drink at all and start a fresh work. Maybe fasting on the last day of your work, and then feasting on the day of rest after, might work for you.
-10. Try writing as soon as you wake up. If you get stale, either exercise or nap to recharge. With fiction I prefer to write a chapter in the morning, then exercise, then proof the chapter. If I doze during this I nap and then write the second chapter when I wake. If I do not doze, if I am charged up, I go right into the next chapter. I am a believer that before writing chapter 2, proofing and amplifying chapter 1 helps.
-11. Do not do rewrites. That is advice given by established writers to keep aspiring writers from competing with them. Write.
-12. Don’t obsess on the perfect scene or over work it. Write the scene, and if you think it could have been done better, and it can not be easily juiced up with an amplification, then write the next scene and make it better. Any doubt you have that chapter 2 could have been better, should be used to make chapter 3 better than its predecessor.
I have read dozens of books on how to write, mostly in my 20s. I have tossed most of the advice and do the opposite. I’m surely not the best writer out here. But I have written more books then the top ten current best writers in the same time frame. Writing more will make you write better. Also, in the current market, you will not get big sales without a publishing house, but you can publish a book every season instead of every other year and get more readers that way.
Good Luck—the Greeks and Latins both named that god a woman. Forget that at your peril.
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