Writing Instructions

Table of Contents

1. Write your book every day

2. Make a plan. Schedule, make sacrifices.

3. List 25 books you could write yourself; include something specific about each

4. List 100 books you need to read (that one could take up an afternoon)

5. Make a slow notebook (try in pencil; nothing’s slower than that). Note the changes in your writing when you slow down with this notebook.

6. Make a group of writers who write the kind of book you’re writing

7. Surround yourself with 20 little assignments. Things as small as “Write paragraph about Sarah’s dog.”

8. Do your best. But learn to let The Good overcome The Perfect

9. Read aloud, then assess the fit. Write in your truest voice. (We practice this every morning and evening the Writer’s Workshop meets.)

10. Make a list of things that drain you, plus a list of things that feed you.

11. Seduce yourself out of whining with confident sayings.

12. Find things out — like one special heart-based curiosity you need to discover about the reason to write your book.

13. Do the book — it teaches you the fearlessness you need.

14. Make a list of The 10 Reasons Why I Am Writing My Book.

The above is borrowed by Chapter by Chapter, the guidebook on how to keep writing by Heather Sellars. She gets into the cracks of my writing valise, rubs them down with a gentle voice of a balm that seems to say, “I know it’s not easy, but begin. The rest is easy.” I know it to be true — the most difficult part being the page blank, the screen white and empty, the cursor mocking in its blinking. I think of Hemingway, my early beacon in my 20s, back when newspapering was my passport to the land of writing. “Every day,” he said, “I open a vein and write 500 words.” But he also said something else. About writing one true sentence to begin.

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