BEWARE: Creative Writing Tips Ahead


I’m not much of a ‘taking advice’ guy (but I’m trying Ringo, I’m trying real hard.) And also: YOU SHOULDNT TAKE ADVICE FROM ME. I thought I’d write a little about some of things that I do with writing, as an effort to keep things moving. (As if the internet didn’t give you enough questionably fucked up advice.)

2013 was a really productive year for me, with the publication of Tollbooth, writing a novel called F-250, and a poetry collection Everything Neon (both titles coming soon). 2014 is looking good too.

Here’s a bunch of ignorable tips. Some may actually do more good than harm. But, hey, what the fuck, you gotta listen to some idiot, why not me?

Make more time for whatever creative project you’ve got going

a) I write on my lunch and coffee breaks at work. Sometimes this involves pushing ear plugs in extra deep because I work in an industrial hellhole.

b) the end of the work day, I generally sit at my ‘desk’ for an extra twenty minutes rather than fight the traffic out of the parking lot (200 people all leave at the same time.)

Clearing out space consistently day in day out for twenty minutes of writing/creative work is where the good stuff happens.

c) me and my wife got rid of our TV a couple years ago. Now we talk more, read more and make more art. We still sit and drink on the same couch, now we just do it with the radio on instead of junk TV. Helped immensely with creative output.

d) Saturday and Sunday morning, I wake up a little early and work on a writing project for a little bit before waking my wife up. I put a record on. I drink a couple cups of coffee. It’s nice. Try it.

Commit to write everyday. Even if it’s just 300 words.

a) that’ll take you about 20 minutes. Anybody has twenty minutes.

b) if you don’t have 20 minutes, quit something else that sucks.

c) I suggest quitting anything that involves things like: mowing your lawn, painting the exterior of stuff, raking leaves, wrapping gifts.

d) can’t commit to 20 minutes? Fuck it. Do 5.

e) can’t commit to 300 words. Okay, write ONE word a day. ONE FUCKING WORD. That’ll take 10 seconds. Commit to that. By the end of your life, you’ll probably have a good book done. (Studies show I’m full of shit.)

Get a critique partner/partners

a) having your work proofread helps you.

b) proofreading others work also helps you.

c) you can learn a lot from someone better than you.

d) you can learn just as much from someone who isn’t as far along as you. Don’t shy away from helping someone out, being a mentor. It’ll surprise you how much you can learn about your own work by helping someone else with theirs.

Attend a reading, meet other writers in person.

a) if you listen to non-professional writers read their work aloud, a few things become aparent. Particularly, the way language comes across.

b) if you read your work aloud, you’ll have the benefit of getting a reaction or non-reaction from the audience. It’s always possible to do a rewrite from the things you’ll learn.

c) a lot of them read in funny squeaky voices. That’s enjoyable.

Read a wide variety of books.

Whatever you’re stuck in a rut reading now, branch out and try something different. Variety is beauty. Join Goodreads. There’s tons of great reviews and write ups there.

a) I’m reading a book of fiction each week. (Slender novels are usually my go-to)

b) reading a poetry collection/chapbook a week too. I read the poetry in the bathroom. When I take a leak I read a poem. Before you know it, you’ll be ready for another back of the toilet poetry book.

c) I don’t read anything on writing or craft. But that’s probably because I’m a dumbass. Maybe you should? Who knows.

Talk to writers in person. Over beer. Try it, don’t deny it. Wine and other alcohol works too.

a) pick funny writers. Even if their work is serious.

b) don’t err towards good looking writers. Ugly ones are more fun.

c) happy hour is best since chances are, you will all be broke.

Use these words less

a) that
b) had
c) it
d) suddenly
e) and
f) all words in general.

Get Good at Twitter

To be a better editor. Brevity is beauty. I suck at it still but used to be worse. I started a Twitter account to force myself to get better at writing in 140 characters.

a) improves sentence structure big time.

b) learn what words are truly unnecessary.

c) becoming more economical makes your work more pleasing to read.

Use Print On Demand as a Way to Print Out Your Proof Copies.

Even if it’s just a chapbook of 10 poems, make a book, that’s the goal right? Lay the book out, start thinking about the work as a real book. Not just loose leaf paper.

a) I use createspace.
b) I make a proof copy of a paperback novel
c) order it, ship to my house
d) I don’t approve the proof.
e) costs $3
f) can keep editing it by hand and making a new proof copy as long as I want.

That’s just some stuff that I’ve gotten into doing. Will it help you? Fuck no, it might even hurt.

But, 2013 was a pretty preductive year for me. Hopefully some of this stuff helps you be more productive too. Or more important, enjoy the process of making stuff. That’s the real reason to do it. Because you enjoy the fuck out of it.



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