08 December 2009

Free Advice - Inquire Within

by Frank Hulse

What would I tell you if I only had 1500 words and I wasn’t sure I’d ever have a chance to talk with you again? Is there anything in my writing experience that you can use? What could I say to help you write well and have fun? They are not mutually exclusive, you know – having fun and writing well can be had in the same deep breathing exercise!  Pretend that I’m your drill sergeant and you need some help to complete basic training. Here goes…

If you do the crime, be ready to do the time. Writing is a craft. If you don’t have the skill set, then get your rear end back in classes and pay your dues and pay attention. Develop the craft if you expect it to float and maybe pay a few bills. 

If you don’t develop an outline, expect to spend a quarter of your time back tracking and guessing, “Now where was that… or… Did I mention…?” The idea of writing an entire manuscript, while flying by the seat of your well-worn pants is ludicrous. Eventually, you’ll have a blowout and guess what is going to be revealed in all its glory? If you were to write a page or two off the top of your head, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. You can write a letter to Mom and Dad and omit the outline. But if you were calling home and it was costing you $10 a minute, you’d darned sure get some organization to your thoughts. The same thing applies to our writing. Time is money. Our time is too valuable to let it drain away like warm air from a stale balloon. That would be my first point. Do the outline.

Get out of the house or the apartment or dormitory and live. Don’t devote all day to work, or school, and all night to writing. You need a life. You don’t have to party ‘til dawn or play every amateur sport that comes along. You don’t have to ride your bicycle on 20-mile rides. Yes, get some exercise and have some fun, but go for variety.

Don’t make any excuses. Take the time you need and own it. Don’t share it or rent it out. Pick a time that nobody else wants or needs you and be selfish with it. Maybe it’s 4:30-6:00 A.M. Or maybe it’s 7:15-8:45 P.M. 90 minutes is my magic number. I can do anything for 90 minutes and everyone I know can do without me for that same period of time. If you can devote 90 minutes a day, seven days a week, that’s 10.5 hours. And in 10.5 hours of steady work, you can write 5,000 good words. So, in three months, you have 60,000 words, plus or minus and in six months a whopping 120,000 words. Be consistent and persistent and don’t make any excuses. Write, revise and edit.   

Have fun; write well.

Happy Trails…

The author, William Frank Hulse, III, has previously published one book, Happy Trails. His current writing effort is a book entitled A King’s Ransom – intended to be a help to those who are transitioning to retirement. The first draft of A King’s Ransom was just completed.  He has a fiction novel which is unpublished and a book length collection of short stories he plans to revise and edit the first thing tomorrow! He's a self-declared marketing failure and hasn't been diligent in that area of writing – like most of us.

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