New year, new you. A chance to start fresh. Reset goals and get things done. If writing a novel or finishing a manuscript is on your list of New Year's resolutions, there's no time like the present to start. And while writing is often a solitary activity, there's no reason not to follow the advice of those who came before you, completed their books, and had their work published.
Falmouth author Ted Murphy, who wrote his most recent novel, “Macabre Trophies,” under the pseudonym Declan Rush, suggests aspiring writers take time each day to work on their craft.
“Writers should take time to create every day, even if it's just 20 minutes, like I exercise.
“If you want to write a book, don’t just say that. Tell yourself, “I’m going to write at least one good page today.” After a while you will be writing more than one page. Now if I could do that with the way I exercise.
Like Mr. Murphy, Falmouth author Susan Shelton's advice to writers is to practice consistency and write every day.
“Make it a habit. Find a time and place where you are free from distractions and stick to it. For me, it's a small room with a door that closes and for me, it's first thing in the morning. I'm a morning person, so writing at that time, before everyone else gets up, works great for me. I write for an hour and a half every day and almost never miss a day.
Also similar to Mr. Murphy, Ms. Shelton, who writes mystery novels under the pseudonym Sarah Osborn, likened a regular writing practice to exercise.
“You choose your time and place. It doesn't matter if it's half an hour and it doesn't matter if it's in a cafe. It only matters that you do it as faithfully as you do anything else daily, like brushing your teeth and exercising. By doing it daily, you can accomplish almost anything. You can finish what you start and build your skills the same way you build muscle with daily exercise. Don't worry about the quality of your writing or whether or not a day's writing remains in your finished manuscript. Just do it carefully and do it consistently.
Ms. Shelton cited the advice of Walter Mosley, prolific writer and creator of the detective series Easy Rawlins, who advised: “Write every day of your life. Write in a book, not in a journal, and work on a project until it's finished.
“You don't need to get upset if you're having a bad writing day,” Ms. Shelton said. “You just have to keep writing until what you want to say emerges. What I've discovered is that writing every day is almost never a chore. Writing motivates me, and even on days when the right words are hard to find, I know that putting something down on paper or on my computer always keeps me going.
Crime writer Edith Maxwell also promotes the “back in the chair, fingers on the keyboard” approach to achieving this.
“You can't fix a book or a story that you didn't write, and you can't sell a piece of writing that you didn't finish, revise and polish,” said the Agatha Prize-winning author of more than 30 books, including Quaker. The Midwife mystery series, the Country Store mystery series and the Cozy Cape Book Group mystery series, all set in Cape Town. Ms. Maxwell's most recent release is “Deep Fried Death,” written under her pseudonym, Maddie Day.
“If you are not able to write every day, don't worry, but set aside some sacred time to devote to your craft,” said Ms. Maxwell, who added: “then find your collaborators, d 'others who write the genre of writing. the books you make. Join their organization, take classes, network. You'll be glad you did.
Buzzards Bay author Dan Perdios also tries to start each day by writing, “even if it's just two pages.”
“It doesn't have to be an original document,” Mr. Perdios said, “sometimes it's a second draft. Because as they say: “Writing is rewriting”.
Author of “A Golden Retriever & His Two Dads” and more recently “Rescuing Morgan,” Mr. Perdios advocates writing about what you know and love and reading books on the subjects that interest you most.
“When I started writing, it was mainly about the AIDS epidemic. This is what I knew first hand. That's what fascinated me. My writing about AIDS was a form of activism. I committed to being a voice for those who were too sick or too scared.
“Now I write about my love for my dogs. Specifically, my golden retrievers. I'm motivated to tell the world how lucky I was to have them in my life. They saved me. Writing about my dogs gets me up in the morning. I also read other books about dogs. I read “Dog Years” by Mark Doty, a story about his gold during his partner's illness in the 80s. I read “Until Tuesday” by Captain Luis Carlos Montalvan, a story about his dog assistance, named Tuesday. I had the chance to meet Luis and Tuesday once at an event in San Francisco.
Scott Childress, who teaches at Sandwich High School and is the author of the young adult novel “Ronnie Willow and the Silver Mask,” advises being resilient and flexible when it comes to the editing process.
“Never get so attached to what you write that you can't edit or change it. When you are published, editors will review your work and suggest or require changes that you may not initially agree with. I had huge chunks of writing from my first book edited, and it was so much better because of it, but at the time I didn't see it. I just thought about the work I put into those words and how it needed to appear in the book.
Mr. Childress's latest book, “Ronnie Willow & the Devil's Shadow,” will be released later this year.
Like anything, author and playwright Michael Solomowitz notes that writing requires commitment and perseverance. Mr. Solomowitz, who lives in Sandwich, published his first novel, “Behind the Fourth Wall,” in 2022. Several of his short plays have been performed at Upper Cape.
“When I was finishing college, one of my professors suggested that I probably wouldn't become rich and famous by writing. But writing was all I knew. I wasn't very good at the time, but I seemed to have a gift for dialogue. So I took a video production class in New York, wrote and directed my first screenplay, shopped it around, and got an offer to write for Manhattan Cable TV. After that, I worked for Warner Brothers, became a journalist, wrote for the theater, and eventually had a novel published.
“Here’s my advice: be honest with yourself. If you want to become a writer and are willing to put in the work to become the best you can be, then go for it. Take the risk and write. My teacher was only partly right. I took my chance and I don't regret anything. And for that, my life has been rich.
Mashpee resident Kathryn Perrone is the USA TODAY bestselling author of several works of paranormal romance, including “Silver Lake,” “Gull Harbor,” “Haunted Souls” and, most recently, 2020's “Ghost Moon.” She writes under the pseudonym Kathryn Knight.
Ms. Perrone's practical advice to writers is to read Debra Dixon's “Purpose, Motivation, and Conflict” and create goal, motivation, and conflict charts for each character in her novel.
She also recommends reaching out to like-minded writers through social media.
“Sites like Bookstagram on Instagram have a whole community of readers and authors and I have made many connections and friends as a result. It's also a great way to find beta readers.
Vineyard resident John Hough is the author of several novels, including “Seen The Glory: A Novel of the Battle of Gettysburg,” “The Last Summer” and “Little Bighorn: A Novel.” Her most recent book, “The Sweetest Days,” was published in 2021 by Simon & Schuster; it takes place in the fictional town of Dunstable on Cape Cod.
Her advice to aspiring authors is to have trusted readers who will provide honest feedback.
“Show your work to one or two people, no more. These must of course be people who are honest with you and whose judgment you trust. Listen to them, then follow their advice if it makes sense to you.
“It's nice to have a chorus of friends commenting at length on your book or story, but writing doesn't happen by committee. Ultimately, it's between you and the page, no matter what your friends say.
“My wife and my agent read my work before it was published, no one else, and they are right far more often than wrong in their critiques. In fact, they're almost always right, and they improve every one of my books. More than once, they have made unpublishable manuscripts publishable.
“Writing,” said George V. Higgins, “is for adults.” It's a lonely business. Be brave.”