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My guest today is Stephanie Burgis, award-winning author of short stories and novels that mix the genres of fantasy and historical.
I’ve know Stephanie online for a couple of years and I’m continually impressed by her productivity. No matter what is going on in her life, she seems to pull amazing word counts out of the bag with an astonishing regularity.
Stephanie is also a generous and supportive member of the writing community, and it was wonderful to get the opportunity to speak to her.
For more information on Stephanie and her books, head to www.stephanieburgis.com or find her on Twitter @stephanieburgis
We talk about the importance of both discipline and kindness in staying productive, and Stephanie gives her top tips for making it through the long slog of a novel.
Recommendations from the podcast:
Stephanie mentions that the Clarion West Workshop was life-changing for her as a writer.
The wonderful short story that made me sob (available free to read on the Daily Science Fiction site): Dancing In The Dark
I share my recent difficulties with getting back to writing after a short break, and a technique for introducing a little kindness into the way you speak to yourself when struggling with writing (or anything, really!).
I also answer my first listener question (sent in by @evergrowinbrain – thank you!).
‘I do wonder if forcing words out ever becomes good stuff and if you keep tabs on which bits your write ‘under duress’ and which bits were easy.
Are 500 rubbish words still better than no words at all?
Or do they not count if they aren’t good?’
My experience, for what it’s worth, is that by the time I’ve finished the draft and let it rest, I can’t tell which words came easily and which did not.
I slogged my way through 50,000 words of a book once before deciding that life was too short to spend this amount of effort on something I hated. I put the book in the metaphorical bottom drawer. A year later I read it with surprise and pleasure. There was lots of good stuff in there.
So, to answer your question, I don’t think the quality of the words matter for two reasons. Firstly, you are too close to assess quality at the time; you need to finish the project and let it rest before you know.
Secondly, it’s all practice and you should count all of the words you write. You might end up deleting them, but that’s okay; sometimes it’s necessary to write the wrong words before you get to the right ones. And you should definitely get the credit for the work!
The only thing I would add is that if you are finding every single writing session a horrible slog, then it might be worth considering whether there is something wrong with the big picture. It might be that you’re trying to write a book for the wrong reasons, or that there’s something wrong with your plot or character motivation.
I do hope that answers your question, and thank you again for writing in.
If you have anything to add to my answer – or an alternative opinion – do let me know.
And if you’ve got a writing-related question that you’d like featured on the show, don’t hesitate to ask.
Please spread the word and, if you can spare the time, leave a review on iTunes.
And thank you for listening!
One thought to “Episode #02 The Worried Writer: A Conversation with Stephanie Burgis”
Thank you very much for another brilliant episode!
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