Last Sunday kicked off National Novel Writing Month, or, according to Merlin Mann, National Read Endless Superficial Advice About Writing Month. Mann cautions procrastinating writers to stay away from the plethora of Web sites that will be offering advice to NaNoWriMo participants in an effort to distract them from their work.
And, the warning? Don’t read too many blog posts like this.
The hounds are out this month, guys, and they smell your fear and self-doubt. So, shovelbloggers will be offering you a tantalizing Vegas-style buffet of endless writing “help” that will range from the indispensable to the stupid to the unconscionably poisonous. And, smile though they might, those folks could care less if all those page views end up killing your word count or distracting you at the one delicate moment you were about to ﬁgure out your troubled third act. Their job is to make you stop working. Don’t let them. Okay?
So get those fingers moving, type your heart out, and if you’re going to take advice, make sure you take it in moderation and only take it from the greats. Mann suggests that most advice worth taking will cover the same basic points:
- Set reasonable goals and honor them
- Draft with complete abandon; edit with surgical precision
- When you sit down to write, focus without distraction; when you’re not writing, keep it off your mind
- Read great books (actual big books, not blogs or magazines) as often as you can
- Just write, and just keep writing, and just keep writing, writing, writing. Then write more.