Sherman Alexie writes poetry, short stories, novels for adults, novels for teens–and does all of this really well. So when he shares his advice for writers, we should probably all listen up. A couple of points I like in particular:
7. Don’t have any writing ceremonies. They’re just a way to stop you from writing.
At first I thought he meant ceremonies like the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony, and I thought “Man, that’s harsh.” But then I realized he means those silly things we think help us write, like having the right mug for your coffee or sitting beside a window or doing jumping jacks. Maybe those help get you in the right frame of mind, but they’re not what gets the writing done. You get the writing done. So write.
4. In fiction, research is overrated. But that means readers will write you correcting all of your minor biographical, geographical and historical errors. If you like, make those corrections in the paperback, but don’t sweat it too much.
This is actually a big relief. I tend to get worried about the “real” stuff in novels–what if someone is offended by my lack of authenticity about 17th century merchant ships? Unless your book is majorly about 17th century merchant ships, no one really cares if you miss a detail or two. As long as the characters are real and you don’t make any ridiculous mistakes (“When did Mars start being the closest planet to the sun?”), I’ll keep reading.
Make sure to click through for the rest of Alexie’s suggestions.