Being a highly prolific writer is sneered at in some circles. Some people think there’s a trade-off between quality and quantity. To do truly ‘great work’ – you can’t do very much of it. Science disagrees. Most of the world’s best writers, creatives and innovators – are also hugely prolific, productive people.
Like Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg’s wardrobe is stuffed to the gills with exactly the same clobber so he doesn’t have to think about what to wear in the morning. He does this because even the smallest smidgen of mental energy invested in deciding whether it’s a brogues or socks and sandals kinda day could be better spent. Zuckerberg never bothers his high-tech grey matter about his daily outfit because he removes the need to make a decision in the first place. In short, he has a system.
The last few weeks for first-time novelist Wyl Menmuir have been a blur. Since finding out his book The Many had been longlisted for the Man Booker – the most prestigious literary prize in the world – he’s been interviewed by national newspapers, courted by big name agents and has headlined literary events.
You’ll never get something written if you don’t start writing it.
At this point you’ll be so awe-struck by this razor-sharp nugget of writing wisdom that you’ll have to make yourself a cup of really strong sweet tea. No?
“Ultimately, literature is nothing but carpentry. Both are very hard work. Writing something is almost as hard as making a table. With both you are working with reality, a material just as hard as wood. Both are full of tricks and techniques. Basically very little magic and a lot of hard work are involved.” Gabriel Garcia Marquez
You’ve made it — you’re a paid writer! Maybe you write advertising copy, video sales letters, memos and presentations, or greetings cards. You’re in this line of work because you love language and you were that child who always hung around the library: there was always a novel in you.
When your long term creative passion is an unpaid side-project, it’s tough to know if you’re moving forwards, treading water or just going round in circles headless-chicken style and never getting any better.
I don’t have an infectious disease but if I did, I imagine telling people you have one garners much the same reaction as telling people you’ve written a short comedy film. There’s normally some initial interest – even enthusiasm – but then a yawning chasm of social awkwardness opens as people think I might expect them to like the film or even worse – find it funny.
Indie authors might be revolutionising the publishing industry but bagging yourself a top agent can still make all the difference to your writing career. And that means you need to know to approach them, what they’re looking for and how they work. We asked Hellie Ogden from leading literary agency Janklow & Nesbit to give us a few pointers on what she looks for from a budding author.
At the time of writing, the top two trending articles on Buzzfeed are: ‘15 Struggles You’ll Only Understand If You’re Obsessed With Cereal’ and ‘The 15 Emotional Stages of Mobile Phone Ownership’. It’s safe to say that Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, hasn’t read either.