After years spent writing for Wired and other publications, Steve Silberman decided to try his hand at authoring a book. The genesis of his work was an influential article he had published a decade ago about autism in high-tech communities such as Silicon Valley, and the new book revisits the subject, concerning itself with autism, the variety of human cognitive styles, and the rise of the neurodiversity movement. Despite having spent the past two decades in journalism, Silberman found the prospect of authoring a 100,000 word book daunting, and so went in search of advice. He sent out an email to the authors in his social network, asking them, “What do you wish you’d known about the process of writing a book that you didn’t know before you did it?”
A diverse group of authors replied with advice, from science writers to bloggers, a zen master, a poet, and even a musician (David Crosby of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young) among others. You can view all the advice here. My favorite advice comes courtesy of Cory Doctorow, journalist, blogger, and author of a number of award winning science fiction novels:
Write every day. Anything you do every day gets easier. If you’re insanely busy, make the amount that you write every day small (100 words? 250 words?) but do it every day.
Write even when the mood isn’t right. You can’t tell if what you’re writing is good or bad while you’re writing it.
Write when the book sucks and it isn’t going anywhere. Just keep writing. It doesn’t suck. Your conscious is having a panic attack because it doesn’t believe your subconscious knows what it’s doing.
Stop in the middle of a sentence, leaving a rough edge for you to start from the next day — that way, you can write three or five words without being “creative” and before you know it, you’re writing.
Write even when the world is chaotic. You don’t need a cigarette, silence, music, a comfortable chair, or inner peace to write. You just need ten minutes and a writing implement.
What strategy, style, or method of writing works best for you? Which author(s) advice do you find most helpful? Feel free to share your own tips for writing as well.