Our interview with Wayne Martindale was packed so full of good things that we didn’t even have time to cover everything we’d talked about. Now, see the rest of the interview: tips for writers! These are gold, folks:
Don’t wait for the perfect time or perfect inspiration
If you do, you will never write. Think of it as a physical act: sit down, open your computer, put something down. You may have a thought at any time, but most of your ideas will come while you are actually writing.
Know your Audience
Maybe that first thing you put down will be a list of things you might say. One of the things on that list may be who you have in mind as readers of your book.
Don’t Rush the Form
The sequence of ideas and tone of voice i may not come until you’ve written several paragraphs over several days. The organization for Beyond the Shadowlands only came to me after several days of reading and writing. All writers are “longing for a form.” It can be frustrating while you work through false starts, but when you discover the form for your ideas, it’s as exciting as a space shot and you can’t wait to get it down—not that there isn’t plenty of slogging, too, before all is said and done.
Give yourself a time limit
Give yourself a limit that isn’t too intimidating, and perhaps a “production quota”: I didn’t let myself quit while writing my dissertation until I had written four pages and had an idea for where to pick up the next day. I’ve continued that practice when working on a project.
Ask Yourself questions
I often end the day’s writing work with a question, so I have something to think about in the mean time and a definite place to start when I return. It makes coming back so much easier.
Get as much true criticism as you can
Thank those sincerely who find weaknesses in your writing or parts that don’t fit or aren’t clear—that’s like finding gold. Of course, we all need encouragement, too, but we need honesty more. Lewis, Tolkien, and the other Inklings had this kind of regular honest exchange on their writing—for their whole lives.
Expect some rejections by publishers
Many notable masterpieces were rejected at first, often multiple times. Lewis’s first publisher rejected his early book, Out of the Silent Planet. Tolkien’s publisher then rejected it even with a powerful recommendation by Tolkien, but suggested it to another publisher who took it. I know good writers who have agents and still have more books rejected than published. You can’t be thin skinned and expect to succeed at writing.
Read good writers
Pause occasionally when you find a sentence or paragraph you really like to ask what about it causes the impact: How are the sentences structured? How are the sentences varied? What appeals to the senses? What use of metaphor and allusion? Reading aloud may also help capture the sound and rhythm and pace. All of these things go into the atmosphere of a piece as well as the ideas.
Love the process
Or try to, at least.
Remember, we’re giving away Beyond the Shadowlands with a bonus book — you can sign up for that giveaway here
Published on 25 August, 2014. Last updated on