I started to take writing more seriously sometime in 2012. Between making daily writing goals and setting timetables for when I’d get drafts done, I decided it was finally time to read a few craft books. Of the dozen or so I borrowed from the library, Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird were the only ones I read all the way through, and Bird by Bird was the only one I actually remember anything from.
This is not to dish on craft books; I suspect I read them too late, when most of what they said I’d already gleaned from reading. And the craft books I found at the time all seemed to focus on one thing: the importance of putting your butt in the chair and actually writing. Which is fantastic advice and perhaps some of the most necessary, but I wanted more.
So I started reading authors’ blogs. You can glean a lot from authors’ blogs. Not just the obvious things like who they are and what they’re working on, but how the publishing industry actually functions. How to schedule your writing around a fulltime job. What “going pro” actually means. That a first draft is just that – a first draft among many, many more. That doubt is not only normal but common.
And yes, some craft.
So in that vein, here are two of my go-to author blogs as well as a podcast that goes beyond Writing 101:
For the daily grind side of things, and from whom I learned and internalized the term “draft zero,” there’s Cherie Priest’s blog. Her regular posts about how her writing is going were invaluable in learning what the day to day process actually looks like. Which is, largely, putting in the time and when one project is done, working on the next. Also I love the way she encapsulates each project within just a sentence or two in her update posts.
For the business side of things, and for a healthy dose of humor and perspective, there’s John Scalzi’s Whatever blog. Scalzi’s always been incredibly transparent about money and workload and expectations in publishing, for which I’m grateful. He even headed the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) for a hot minute, so he’s also been an excellent source for news about the industry and about the larger and broader fantasy community.
For the next level of craft, there’s the podcast Writing Excuses, which you can (and should) binge starting from season 5 (or whenever Mary Robinette Kowal joined the crew). This podcast is phenomenal and I have learned so many things about craft that I never knew I never knew. Plus, as the episodes progress, they’ve added in more and more diverse voices, so while it starts out as a handful of white dudes talking to each other, it certainly doesn’t stay that way.
And as a bonus, for well-thought-out and humorous takes on current issues in the publishing industry – and not just the fantasy portion – you should be listening to Print Run Podcast. Two agents (sometimes? every time?) get a little tipsy and discuss everything from the latest book scandal to what the various literary Jonathans are doing to awards and standard industry practices. It’s an excellent way to stay informed.
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