"Dawn...Get up and bite the nail!"
I've been doing a lot of interviews lately about the best writing advice anyone ever gave me. One such interview I did (if you want to call it that) was for my rock star agent, Chip MacGregor or the MacGregor Literary Agency. Chip has just put the finishing touches on a "very nice" 7 book deal for me, which includes two new ones, Blue Moonlight and Murder by Moonlight for the Dick Moonlight series and five of my back-list titles, the top ten and top twenty Amazon Kindle bestselling The Innocent and The Remains among them.
In his newest blog post at MacGregor Literary.com, Chip asks me and several other authors in his stable, what's the best writing advice anyone has ever given you. Here's my answer: "The best writing advice I ever got came from Ernest Hemingway in the form of his memoir, A Moveable Feast. If writers are worried about one thing, it's the ability to keep a story moving from day to day. To avoid the 'block,' as some people call it. Papa wrote slowly and methodically in the early morning hours, and trained himself to stop at a point where he knew what was going to happen next. That way he could be sure of getting started the next day -- and it left him the afternoons to play, exercise, fish, drink, or do whatever he wanted."
Taking this a step further, I want to talk a little about mornings.
My band mates in The Blisterz used to get so frustrated with me. Whenever we'd have a gig, I'd request we play the earliest spot possible...You know, when nobody has shown up yet...so that I could get myself home at a decent hour, get to bed, and get up to write. If you're in a band, you don't want to play the early spot. You want to play the late, late, late spot, when the bar is major league packed and everyone is pretty well lubed up. Lubed up audiences are very forgiving. Even when they're shouting out for FreeBird, and you start playing Beat the Brat instead.
But I digress...
As a writer, mornings are precious. Like Hemingway suggested long before me, the morning is the time when you're are most alone and isolated with your thoughts. The dawn is peaceful and the daily rigors of every life like emails, snail mail, needy kids, grumpy spouses, telephone calls, uninvited guests, and more get in the way of your work.
But hey, that's life!
If, however, you can manage to get your page quota in by noon, you then have the rest of the day to deal with said life, and all the adventures it promises to bring your way. Somehow a phone call from the wife telling you she just rear-ended the guy in front of her while she was texting doesn't sound as painful as it might otherwise be if your pages are completed. If you receive an IRS bill for unpaid taxes, it becomes more like water rolling off a duck's back so long as you have gotten your daily quota of words in.
Your writing is your shield and your sword and your rock. It is what you have in the face of uncertainty. It is surety and stability when the earth beneath your feet is splitting open, and about to swallow your home with the dig still asleep inside it. And it all begins in the dawn, when you are the only person awake on earth.
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