“So how do writers make sense of it all? Observe. Take notes. Question your own assumptions. Recognize the struggles of people around you, acknowledge your struggles, and be generous to both. In Allende’s words, “If we listen to another person’s story, if we tell our own story … we realize that the similarities that bring us together are many more than the differences that separate us.”
Source: Isabel Allende’s National Book Awards Speech: Writing Advice – The Atlantic
Isabel Allende has become the first Spanish-language writer to receive an honorary National Book Award medal. In her acceptance speech, which you’ll find covered in “The Atlantic” at the link above, she talks about how being constantly uprooted has not only impacted the themes in much of her fiction but her approach to writing itself.
“As a stranger … I observe and listen carefully. I ask questions, and I question everything. For my writing, I don’t need to invent much; I look around and take notes. I’m a collector of experiences,” she said.
That’s how writers–and perhaps almost everyone–make sense of moving to new towns, travel experiences, and the political and cultural upheavals of the times in which they live. As the author of “The Atlantic” article, Rosa Inocencio Smith puts it, Allende’s speech “functions almost as a step-by-step guide for responding to such existential uncertainties. Surrounded by people with infinitely varied lives, writers, she advised, need not feel the pressure of making up stories from scratch. Confronted with problems in their plots or psyches, they can use their skills of observation to gain understanding.”
I like the advice, the article, and the speech itself (which you’ll find linked to the article).
- Neglect everything else.
“It starts with a simple fact: If you’re not making the time to write, no other advice can help you. Which is probably why so many of the writers I talk to seem preoccupied with time-management. “You probably have time to be a halfway decent parent and one other thing,” David Mitchell, the author of Cloud Atlas, told me. That can mean mustering the grit to let other responsibilities languish. As he put it in short: ‘Neglect everything else’.”
Source: I Talked to 150 Writers and Here’s the Best Advice They Had | Literary Hub
After getting past a really strange writing process John Irving advocated, this feature story has a lot of food. I quoted the first item on the list because I think we find it hard to neglect everything else. For one thing, everything else is easier than writing. Plus, the other stuff usually has deadlines and measurable results like, say, getting the yard mowed and not missing your doctor’s appointment.
Unless you’re a professional writer, freelance or novelist, you probably don’t have firm writing deadlines. Novels often take forever to write. So it’s easy to put off writing that novel while doing other stuff that can actually be crossed off a TO DO list.
We say our writing matters. If so, it’s got to be near the top of the list of things we actually spend time doing.
There are a lot of sites “out there” that are worth a look if you’re a writer needing advice or looking for a free listing for your book. My friend good friend, author and publisher Melinda Clayton, writes articles for Indies Unlimited, so I’ve been tuning in on that site a lot lately.
There’s good stuff there such as Melinda’s overview of AuthorsDen. Among other things, check out the blog and knowledgeBase. You can also list your books on the site on Thrifty Thursday and Print Book Paradise. These listings work well when you want to publicize reduced prices.
Here’s there’s blurb about the service
On every Thursday at 5 a.m. Pacific time, Indies Unlimited presents a feature called “Thrifty Thursday.” It’s simple: authors can list their free or 99¢ e-books and readers can find a large selection of free and cheap reads in one convenient place. For those of you looking for Freebie Friday, it has now been incorporated into Thrifty Thursday. Click here for the most recent Thrifty Thursday. If you have a print book priced under $15, you can participate in Print Book Paradise (also known as Mr. Pish’s Print Book Party) each Sunday at 9 a.m. Pacific time.
To learn more, click here.
I’ve used the Indies Unlimited listings several times and have been pleased with the results.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of contemporary fantasy novels, paranormal short stories and satire. “Jock Who” is free if you have Kindle Unlimited. That’s how I would read it!