A lot is said about the hows and whys of writing. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the how-to books on writing as there seem to be multitudes of people offering advice and about half of them have a book to sell. Most of them you’ve never even heard of (well, “I” haven’t anyway). Some of them can even “guarantee” you success. To quote my wife, “Fssshaw!”
Like any writer, though, I do enjoy reading various hows. What I mean is that the writing process is done in so many different ways, I’m not sure that they could all be included in just one book. Several books claim to be that book, but they aren’t. What I look for in a book like that is the author. If some unknown (and more likely, unpublished except for that work) author is trying to tell me how to write a bestseller, then I just have to laugh and move on. However, when someone like Orson Scott Card writes a book about plot or character development, I’m interested as the man has a proven track record of doing both those things really well. While it may not work for me, I like to know how he (and others) go about the creative process.
But new writers should be wary of all the books and clubs and groups out there. In trying to make a shift from comic books to prose fiction, I’m noticing a lot of material targeting specifically at new writers. Quite frankly, some of it is both insulting and embarrassing…and some of it seems created only to generate money and not to help the fledgling writers. I attended one conference that was loaded with books on “how-to” this and that. In between many of the sessions, attendees got a sales pitch. I found that a bit used-car-salesman-like. So new writers should just be careful and be aware.
But one thing I’ve not seen a lot of is where to write. I know I’ve had a wide variety of writing places. The earliest “steady” places I can remember start at the library at the University of Southern Mississippi where I got my degree in creative writing. The university didn’t have computers for students back then, and I’d take a pencil and notepad and find a quite place and just write away. I’d then go back to my room and type in what I’d written.
After graduation, I was fortunate enough that my roommates created an “office” area so that we could work. I did all my writing there. Same thing for when I first got married: I always managed to have a nice little office space.
When I got hired at Malibu, though, my home office disappeared because I had an office with the company. It wasn’t until 2005, when we moved to Loretto, TN that I was able to get a home office again. I was very productive there, surrounded by my books and computers (yes, I had 2 then; a MAC and a PC).
NOW, however, I share a room with the kids and their homework desks. Most of my books are packed away and while I’ve got my trusty earthquake desk, there seems to be a multitude of distractions.
And that, I think, is the answer for writers. It really doesn’t matter where you write, as long as there is a minimum of distractions. Writers want a place to sit down and write without distractions. That’s not always easy to get…but it’s a goal to have.