It took Stephen King ten minutes to learn how to have a successful and financially rewarding career writing fiction and he believes he can teach us the same in ten minutes, too.
King–author of countless novels and the much-lauded book on the craft,Â On Writing–starts with a short story of his youth followed byÂ twelve tips professing to teach us everything we need to know about writing successfully:
- Be talented:Â If you’re not talented, you won’t succeed. And if you’re not succeeding, you should know when to quit.Â When is that? I don’t know. It’s different for each writer. Not after six rejection slips, certainly, nor after sixty. But after six hundred? Maybe. After six thousand? My friend, after six thousand pinks, it’s time you tried painting or computer programming.
- Be neat
- Be self-critical
- Remove every extraneous word
- Never look at a reference book while doing a first draft:Â Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word.
- Know the markets
- Write to entertain: If you want to preach, get a soapbox.
- Ask yourself frequently, “Am I having fun?”: The answer needn’t always be yes. But if it’s always no, it’s time for a new project or a new career.
- How to evaluate criticism
- Observe all rules for proper submission
- An agent? Forget it. For now
- If it’s bad, kill it:Â When it comes to people, mercy killing is against the law. When it comes to fiction, it is the law.
That story King shares ends with an anecdote related directly to tip four:
Until that day in John Gould’s little office, I had been writing first drafts of stories which might run 2,500 words. The second drafts were apt to run 3,300 words. Following that day, my 2,500-word first drafts became 2,200-word second drafts. And two years after that, I sold the first one.
Derek Sivers’ book recommendations continue to be some of the most well matched to my own tastes.
Infrequently updated, Derek Sivers’ book list provides a tiny summary of his recent reads, followed by extensive notes he has taken from each: somewhat similar to my current process, now that Amazon’s Kindle has completely transformed my reading and note-taking habits.
In addition to the extensive book list itself, Sivers lists eleven of his top recommendations (some that I would change, others that I’ve heard contradicting views on, but a great starting point nonetheless):
- Understanding the world we live in
- Getting your life under control
- Own your own business?
- Dealing with people
Inspired by Matthew Frederick’s enlightening bookÂ 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School, Shane Morris and Matt Morphett startedÂ 101 Things I Learned in Interaction Design School.
After a promising start the site halted prematurely with aÂ measly nineteen entries to it’s name. Those that do exist are not all fantastic, but there are some gems that are worth a browse, including:
I wait in hope of a revival.
After years as a trainer, Mike O’Donnell compiles and shares an extensive list of health and fitness tips.
As Jason said, there’s “a lot of good (and questionable) stuff in this list”. Here are my favourites:
- Diet is 85% of where results come fromâ€¦ for muscle and fat loss. Many donâ€™t focus here enough.
- If you eat whole foods that have been around for 1000s of years, you probably donâ€™t have to worry about counting calories.
- The eat low-fat advice was the biggest health disaster in the last 30 years.
- The smartest trainer I know does not have a website or best selling ebookâ€¦ as he is too busy training real clients. (Related.)
- If you want to get better at runningâ€¦ you runâ€¦ at bikingâ€¦ you bikeâ€¦ at a sportâ€¦ you play that sport.
- There is no one right way for anythingâ€¦ as 20 different ways can get you results.
- Results are just the simple yet important things done on a consistent basis.
- All diets fail over the long runâ€¦.but lifestyle changes last.
- The best thing anyone can do for their health/results is to just try new thingsâ€¦ see how their body adapts and respondsâ€¦ and learn how to take total control no matter life may throw at them in the future.
Hugh MacLeod shares a list of random thoughts on being an entrepreneur–a simple list of twenty-six inspirational titbits on business, positioning and success.
My favourite five:
- In a world of over-supply and commodification, you are no longer paid to supply. You’re being paid to deliver something else. What that is exactly, is not always obvious.
- People buy your product because it helps fill in the narrative gaps in their lives.
- You can either be cheapest or the best. I know which one I prefer.
- People will always, always be in the market for a story that resonates with them. Your product will either have this quality or it won’t.
- People remember the quality long after they’ve forgotten the price. Unless you try to rip them off.