I’ve learned a few things over the course of my writing career. Here’s a list of things I know now that I didn’t know when I started.

  1. My mind has an infinite number of words in it; my body has a finite life. Getting the words out of the mind and onto the page is a race against mortality.
  2. I tried writing what I know, but it didn’t take long for that well to dry up. Now I use everything I know to write what I don’t know. Now I know more.
  3. Since writing is about expressing what I think about the world, the act of writing is necessarily the act of thinking about the world. When I force myself to write, I force myself to think—whether I want to or not.
  4. I have a list of more than 150 different ways to say “he said.”
  5. Getting inside the head of my characters is an illusion. The characters get inside my head; in fact, they’ve been hiding in there all along.
  6. A writer friend told me he has to “wait for inspiration” before he can write, so I tried it. I waited a long time, and nothing got written. Now, when my muse fails to show up for work, I put out an APB for the lazy shrew and start typing.
  7. The process of editing is like the story of the farmer who went into the barn one morning to find his son digging furiously in a giant pile of horse manure.
    “Son, what’s got into you?” the man asked.
    “Pa,” the young’n replied, breathing heavily, “I just know there’s a pony in here somewhere!”
    The first draft is the pile. The finished work is the pony. Editing is the digging—not fun, and it stinks sometimes, but in the end, there’s a pony.
  8. Readers are the smartest people in the world. If I try to put something over on my readers, they will call me on it every time.
  9. There are gardeners, and there are architects. Architects start with a concept, draw up plans, and methodically construct a narrative. Gardeners plant stuff and see what comes up. I’m an architect, but by the time I’m done, I’m always up to my butt in weeds.
  10. If you’re writing something—anything—you’re a writer.

Ten Things a Writer Knows That You Don’t—Number Four Will Amaze You! Click To Tweet

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