Friday, November 12, 2010


Hi-ho, Jon here!

I can't help but notice, on this fine and overcast morning, the near constant tittering blurts of "TGIF!" echoing up and down the long gray rows of cubicles here at the day prison, the gasping voices tinged with equal parts desperation and a sickly relief, and that can only mean one thing... it's Friday! Yay! Which also means... it's New Blog Day! Double yay! Not only that, but the spinning bottle has finally wobbled its way down to a slow stop and it's pointing right at me again, so strap yourself in, you lucky ducks, because you're about to spend seven minutes in heaven with yours truly, no ifs, ands, or buts about it...


The bad news is, I wrote something up just the other day on my own personal blog: This is Mine, mostly concerning the status of my current projects, so I'm a bit tapped out. Consternation, folks. Consternation has nearly been on my mind for almost the last day or so... what shall I blog about...

And then... inspiration struck! Suddenly, I recalled the little conversation the Gentleman Scribblerati had at the end of our last meet! We talked and we chatted, mostly concerning the status, level, consistency, and quality of our group in general (In short: Good!) and the effort that we've all put into obtaining that level, (in short: A lot!) and that put me in mind of a blog posted by Sci-fi writer and longtime blogger Jon Scalzi.

He put this up a few months back and it stirred some muck up and down the internet for a bit. It was funny watching the camps square off. One side agreed with him, the other most vehemently did not, offering a litany of excuses as to why, and in the end, somehow missed the irony, while a third side complained about the swearing. I fell in with the formers, as Scalzi's stance is really just a longer version of what I've decided, after taking various classes, meeting multiple authors, and reading countless blogs, is actually the only real, practical, and applicable piece of writing advice out there, the only real way to "become" a writer, which is...

The only way to "become" a writer
as learned by Jonathan Hansen

1. Sit down
2. Shut up
3. Pen to paper
4. Repeat

Everything else seems to be details which may or may not apply to your own personal situation. It seems like every author has started differently, they've learned differently, they've written differently, and they've edited differently. It seems like every one of them advises you to follow the querying guidelines and yet, it also seems like every one of them has specifically NOT followed those guidelines on occasion. Every person you talk to, every account you read, it's all different, except for one thing.

1. Sit down
2. Shut up
3. Pen to paper
4. Repeat

In short: If you don't have a product, no one's going to buy.

Here's Scalzi's blog. It's good and funny and profane and insightful, like most of his stuff. Go check it out, if for no other reason that he is current SFWA president. If you don't regularly read his blog or his books, you should.. I recommend Old Man's War, which has one of the best opening lines ever:

"I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife's grave. Then I joined the army."

Nice. Anyway, here's the link.

Until next time, kids,


Mark Teats said...

Nice post.
Last month I set my personal record for most writing done, this month (so far) practically nothing (so your topic is a good one for me).
Steve Jobs has a saying I like: "Real artist's ship." To me that says real artist's produce tangible work.
I have Ray Bradbury's mantra from his book "Zen in the Art of Writing" above my desk: "Don't think. Work. Relax." To me this talks to a writer's state of mind, but without that middle component of actually working, you don't get very far.
Finally, in his book OUTLIERS,
Malcolm Gladwell has a 10,000 hour rule that I believe. He claims that if you practice anything for about 10,000 hours you rise to the professional level of that field/sport/profession. All that applying pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) gets a writer closer and closer to mastering their craft.

Qlaudie said...

Great post, great advice!

Shawn Enderlin said...

Yah, great post.

Now that you just gave out the best piece of writing advice ever we might as well shut this thing down and go home.


Related: Stephen King had some great advice in On Writing about just being yourself and not writing to anyone else's expectations. I'd look it up but I'm having a Rush River at Bryant Lake Bowl right now.


Jon said...

...somebody left work early...

Shawn Enderlin said...

At least I didn't blog from work

Jon said...

I was on lunch break... yeah, lunch break.

Mark Teats said...

Jon, found out 2 things today.

1) One of my fav writers, John Steakley passed away a couple weeks back. I'm bummed.

2) Apparently John Scalzi was a big fan of Steakley's. If you like Scalzi's stuff (I'm going to check out Old Man's War) you should try ARMOR or VAMPIRE$ sometime. Both good reads.

Oh, and also reading "True Grit" which I believe you mentioned in one of your other posts. So far it's a fast, good read.

Jon said...

Armor sounds familiar... I think I have it somewhere.

Enjoy True Grit. The film is out on the 22nd.