I’ve been re-reading Stephen King’s On Writing this week because, well, it’s been a while since I last read it and because it’s my favorite book on the subject. I’d forgotten how many gems were in it. This is perhaps my favorite piece of writing advice ever:
Once I start work on a project, I don’t stop and I don’t slow down unless I absolutely have to. If I don’t write every day, the characters begin to stale off in my mind—they begin to seem like characters instead of real people. The tale’s narrative cutting edge starts to rust and I begin to lose my hold on the story’s plot and pace. Worst of all, the excitement of spinning something new starts to fade. The work starts to feel like work, and for most writers that is the smooch of death.
Mr. King offers the general guideline that writers should finish a first draft within three months for this reason. And while I can’t say that I’ve always abided by this rule, I have to admit that he’s right. If I stop writing for more than a few days, I lose my sense of urgency, and my manuscript loses its sense of urgency too. And then it’s an uphill battle to regain the drive, to get back the flow. It’s always a struggle, and one that wouldn’t have to be if I’d just heeded the advice in the first place.
Write like you’re on fire. It’s as simple as that.
What do you think? Do you agree with this? Disagree? What’s your favorite piece of writing advice?