Monday, June 6, 2011

Successful Writers do It

by J. Scott Moore

Today’s post is likely to be a shorty. I can’t think of much to write about. I’m just typing away waiting for something to flow out of my fingers and through this laptop. I’m simply doing the most basic thing I can. Writing for the sake of writing.

I hear it all the time. “Write every day.”

Over and over I read this advice. Everywhere I turn I’m told about, and by, successful writers that it takes practice. That it is a daily routine. And sometimes it’s even reduced to the unromantic notion of “work!”

Where does this work concept come from? Aren’t these writers that are so freely giving advice also telling us how much they love to write? Does it feel like work to them? Well certainly there is this word being thrown around in my tiny little sphere lately: challenge. And a challenge isn’t accepted without some idea that work will follow. The challenge even talented writers must face is what is commonly called “voice” in the blogging circles. Of course voice is not a new concept, just a new tag. Jack London is a favorite writer of mine and over a hundred years ago he was talking about the importance of voice.

In 1899 London wrote to aspiring writers: “…put the stamp of “self” upon (your) work - a trade mark of far greater value than copyright.” And London asks, “…how can you have something fresh for the jaded ear of the world?”

How indeed?

“To comprehend the characters and phases of any movement, you must know the spirit which moves to action individuals and peoples, which gives birth and momentum to great ideas…the sum of all this will be your working philosophy, by which, in turn, you will measure, weigh, and balance, and interpret the world. It is this stamp of personality of individual view, which is known as individuality.”

Or, voice. Your voice. To find your voice you must write. Practice. London was well known for his practice of writing 1,000 words a day, six days a week. But you must also study the world. None of us live in a vacuum with nothing but hockey. Well, some of you do…but all that other stuff is what makes hockey (or whatever you are writing about) more than a set of rules in black and white. More than an ice cold rink with perfectly straight lines and nets of all the same, exact size. More than a frozen puck. It’s who is in net, who is defending that blue line and who is skating with that puck.

Another guy I like to follow for writing advice is John Scalzi. This guy has turned his daily blog into a phenomenon. It’s amazing to me how he can post a picture of his cat and get 100 comments. But the bottom line is he worked at posting to that blog on a daily basis for years. He’s built a following. If you haven’t checked it out I suggest it, he often gives advice about writing. Of course, he also recommends that you write every day.

Now both of these guys are/were fiction writers (primarily) but I don’t think that their advice is lost on a guy like me just because I don’t aspire to write the great American novel. The advice is still valid. How else am I going to find something to write about if I don’t want to fill my blog with boring game recaps? Voice + practice = something better than a rehash of the game I just watched.

Well, well, not so short after all.

A quote I’ve never seen from London before has just manifested itself on my blog today.
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” -Jack London

And finally, London has this to say, “If you cannot find time, rest assured that the world will not find time to listen to you.”


  1. Great article! I'd like to see more articles like this, of course I guess that gets away from the sports subject.

  2. @ Scott, well you never know. I just might have more with less about sports. More is less?