|Brandon Sanderson (in the middle with the black jacket and hat) talking to a group of writers at LTUE|
|Tracy Hickman and me at LTUE|
David Farland—Write for the love of writing. Write better, longer, get more done. Accomplish your goal for the year. Everyday sit down before you write for a few minutes and meditate. Tell yourself, "I am writing and I am excited about it."
Don't write around it. Write it. Write a story from a painting.
Brandon—Write short fiction. My first love is big fat fantasy novels. They're the most profitable, but as a writer I had a lot of ideas jumping out at me. I could put them in a 15,000 word novella and be done with them. This is a way to keep myself from worrying about the novels I'm not writing. (He calls 15,000 word novels short stories?)
Tracy Hickman—It takes 3 elements to make a writer. 1) talent 2) craft 3) discipline. Talent without discipline is a waste of air. There are a lot of people who are talented but not disciplined. They are "unwept, unhonored, and unsigned."
L.E. Modesitt—You have not yet written your best work, that story you must write and love will crash and burn and you'll have to pick yourself up and start over on page one.
Brandon—Do things more intentionally. I learned to start looking for the things that work well. I started looking at fiction as more of a performance, like a baseball pitcher. Writing is not totally conscious. It's partly subconscious. Train your subconscious by reading a lot.
Tracy—A story is structure. A story is meaning. It's craft. Craft is understanding method. Method is Character, plot, etc. . . . Recommended reading: Stephen Kings Book On Writing and The Black Swan.
Dave—Structure stories with characters, conflict, and people caught in the middle. I started looking at story as an argument. What is this story saying about society, etc. . . ?
2. How is publishing and writing changing? What is a time when writing was really hard for you?
Brandon—Just before (1 year) I published my first book. I wrote 12 novels and none of them sold. It took too long. I tried to chase the market and wrote mediocre novels. It's okay to look at trends, but I had a hard long look at why I was writing. I was writing to get published, but if not, would I keep writing? Yes, 1-2 books per year. Writing was more important than publishing.
Tracy—I'm in the most difficult part of my writing career, the worst thing that's ever happened. I can't talk about it. My way of dealing with it is my belief that I'm supposed to write for a living. What I do matters after all this apparent success you still have obstacles that you have to overcome and just have to rely on faith to get through.
Dave—We're at a tough time in the market and the rules are changing. The playing field has been leveled. What used to work doesn't anymore, but I'm going to keep trying to find a way. At another hard time in my life was when my teachers were pushing me toward a literary market—writing short stories to try to define myself as a writer. I decided to write what I would want to read—genre ficion, SciFi, weird. I was not going to be untrue to myself. It was not the literary mainstream. Once I started writing to an audience, doors kicked open.
L.E. Modesitt—It was hard as hell when I first started. I sold the first Scifi story I ever wrote. I wrote 26 (18 before selling my 2nd and 3rd). I finally got a letter from my first buyer saying, "Don't send anymore stories. I won't buy them. You are a novelist. Write novels." I was trying to cram novels into short stories. I never tried to chase the market. I just kept trying to do what I do. More readers like what I write than editors. I stuck with it. This is what I know how to do/like and there are enough people out there who like it.
You're only as good as the last thing you write.
Dave—Every book I write, I set the bar higher. Each new novel is the hardest.
3. What do you see as the future of writing?
Tracy—1950's motion picture industry in trouble because of TV. 1960's individual producers came in and started making strange counter culture films. They weren't in the business of making movies but in the business of financing movies. Publishers today are in the same place. New distribution technologies are not in the business of making books, they're in the business of arbitrary quality. It's all going to come down to quality. Someone may read you once, but will they read you again? Provide them with a solid story.
Dave—Stories are everywhere. Your stories are your intellectual property. Fans are the future of book publishing: Facebook, Twitter, Webpage views. Your "following" sells books
I hope you've enjoyed these excellent thoughts from these amazing writers and maybe even learned a thing or two or at least felt inspired to keep writing or start writing or to write more! Happy writing and much success!