LitReactor is hosting Chuck Palahniuk’s 36 Essays on developing theme, writing with authority, and the importance of eliminating shortcut verbs. There are lots more, and so far they’re great for pointing out things that make even good writers sound a little amateur-hour. I’m realizing more and more that having tendencies and pitfalls specifically pointed out is just as important as immersing myself in good reading, so I’ll be tucking into these essays in short order.
There’s also a search function to the upper right that allows you to filter essays by authors. None of my favorite fantasy writers are on there, but a lot of the stuff seems to be relevant cross-genre.
Two years ago, when I wrote the first of these essays it was about my “egg timer method” of writing. You never saw that essay, but here’s the method: When you don’t want to write, set an egg timer for one hour (or half hour) and sit down to write until the timer rings. If you still hate writing, you’re free in an hour. But usually, by the time that alarm rings, you’ll be so involved in your work, enjoying it so much, you’ll keep going. Instead of an egg timer, you can put a load of clothes in the washer or dryer and use them to time your work. Alternating the thoughtful task of writing with the mindless work of laundry or dish washing will give you the breaks you need for new ideas and insights to occur. If you don’t know what comes next in the story… clean your toilet. Change the bed sheets. For Christ sakes, dust the computer. A better idea will come.