The need to write is like a river flooding: there is no dam that can contain the flow.
It had to explode inside of you despite of anything, Bukowski used to say, and if it is not like that, then don’t even bother. But how do we know when writing explodes inside of us just as a hobby (therefore limited to a certain time and way, chosen by us) or else because is the right choice to make work-wise speaking?
The craft of writing requires steel strictness, dead-lines, flexibility. At the same time, it should never stop being that visceral need Bukowski talked about, necessary as air is to survive.
If you have chosen writing consciously as your future “job” and you are unraveling all the difficulties on behalf of it to really make it your job well, then precious advice from those who have made it and left their legacy on paper.
Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
You have so many ideas. You are sitting in a bar, you let yourselves be captured by the look of a woman and you think of the perfect start for a novel. You are walking on the street and listen by mistake an interesting argument that leads you right away to conceiving the dialogue of another narrative work in progress.
The head of an aspiring writer is filled with inputs meant to be trasformed into paper but often resulting very difficult to organize into a systematic idea.
What to do?
Henry Miller does not hesitate: Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
Ideas are better put in a notebook, to keep them safe from the blowing wind: the totality of your concentration is dedicated to the project in which you are working right now.
To be a writer, or at least to tell people you are one, firstly you have to be able to print the novel to prove it.
Leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
A common mistake you can stumble upon while writing a novel is filling pages with ink that could have been easily saved. Take the advice from Elmore Leonard to repair the damage: become your own reader and ask yourself, what is tiring to read in a book?
Answer to this doubt means to look with chirurgic eyes your work and proceed with the operation of removing the parts that would make the readers dying of boredom… and you of hunger.
Decide when in the day (or night) it best suits you to write, and organise your life accordingly.
A problem that most of writers find in the world is not being able to live just from their writing. Writers and aspirants generally divide the time in books to study, clients to serve and notebooks to fill. We’re talking about work and study combined.
Nevertheless, though economically unprofitable, writing must not be left behind, on the contrary, Orwell teaches, you must treat it as any other job appointment.
Don’t waste time trying to please people.
Trying to make everyone happy is not possible. Readers could be disappointed, the judgement of the critics could be unhappy. Is a risk worth taking?
Stephen King says yes: to not write about your deepest thoughts means to repeat with other words what has already been said. You gamble the uniqueness with which you could emerge to make your writing resemble to the one from whom already had success out of it.
And so not being remembered, given the fact that nothing worth remembering will be produced.
Find your New York and stay there.
A place to talk about your own passion, to get to know people that follow the same one, a place of trade, new, rich: find your New York and go live there, as Walter Kirn says.
It is not a given fact that you are meant to live where your roots are: maybe, just as leaves, you need more light and more rain to bath your forehead. Give yourselves the possibility of discovering what is your place and walking on the ground of your choosing.
Writing starts with what we live. The outside world is the land in which creativity rests before flying into the infinite skies of imagination. Do not close yourselves in your own world because you do not like the one beneath your windows. Look for a better one to write about.