A Writer Writes
Author News Advice Blog 1 July 20 by Lorenzo Samuel, author of speculative fiction writings.
In the last (1 Apr 20 issue) "Author News" advice blog, I touched on some aspects of how to approach the writing of a story. If you will remember, I agreed with those who say that quantity is senior, although quality must be adequate enough to sell stories to a publisher. In this blog I discuss further why quantity is so important.
Many authors have given the same advice as to the first rule of writing: an author writes. L Ron Hubbard, one of the premier authors of the Golden Age of Science Fiction, when lecturing to a writing class at Harvard, was asked how much did writers have to write before they knew they had a style. He said a couple hundred thousand words, so the story goes. For me, that is true. I'm now nearing that with 190,000 words in 26 short speculative-fiction tales.
At around 170,000 words, I first felt that I recognized a developing style (some call one's style, their voice). I recognize my style or voice now in everything I write. How does that happen by simply putting out quantity?
Here's what I think about that: Let's go to ridiculous extremes. Believe you me, these extremes happen. First is the person who studies how to write. She or he reads every book on the subject that comes along. What's wrong with that? you say. I might say that no writing is occurring. If no writing is occurring, how is what the beginning writer has learned have any use? There is no production.
The other extreme is the person who writes, but never learns how to do it effectively. She or he writes and writes, paying no attention to presentation. Which extreme is better, if either? I propose that the second extreme is by far the superior. Why? There is production. At least in this extreme, wordage, stories and other writings get out.
That's why I agree that quantity is senior to quality. Now, the quality can be improved by techniques of presentation. The doing is the writing, and that must come first, for if it doesn't, what is there to improve? Whether you agree with my reasoning, or not, I leave the advice with you: Write first to get your production out. Study writing technique second to improve what you write.
I will tell you how I put what I'm preaching into practice: 1. Each day (no omitted days) I write something, part of a story, a blog, or practice writing a well-known author's prose. 2. I read for 30 minutes a well-known author's works. 3. I read for 30 minutes books on technique. I write to deadlines. No procrastination. No holding off until the weekend when maybe I'll have the time. Every day, 24/7, something.
One of the contests I've entered is "L Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future" contest. This year the judges presented a workshop for interested writers. Here is a copy of my completion certificate under my real name, not my pen name Lorenzo Samuel:
This is to recognize
for completing the
L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Online Workshop
May 17, 2020
If this online workshop is available next year, I encourage all budding writers to take it. It contains the nuts and bolts on how to write a story. I found it extremely worthwhile. As you might guess, natural production was what I came away with firmly in mind.
If you are to take away one principle from this month's advice blog, it is that a writer writes. That principle is first and foremost in the lives of all successful and continuing writers. Only in this way, will you succeed as a writer, and I hope you will.