Welcome to the third and final installment of this special author spotlight. Today Dan will be discussing tips for writers. As an international bestselling author, he knows what he is talking about.
Without further adieu…
~~~Author Spotlight – Dan Alatorre – Part 3~~~
Do you have a routine you follow when writing or do you just wing it? What is your day like?
I do have a routine. When I’m working on a novel – when I’m writing the actual chapters – I will get up at four in the morning every day and write several thousand words of story. This is when I am creating the first draft from a bunch of ideas and making it into a book. It’ll be revised a few times, where I look for things like where I should add emotion and where I should trim stuff that’s not going to be interesting to readers (but stuff I had to develop to understand the character). A lot gets taken out and a few things get added. Trimming to make a fast pace. All that starts at 4am every day.
Other things that are routines that other writers should do is have an outline. Spending an extra few days figuring out where the story’s going to go (and having an ending for it) will prevent 90% of writer’s block. If you just jump in with the cool idea and you start writing without a direction, you’re running on adrenaline. After a few chapters, that wears off and you’re going to say you “hit the wall.” If you outline, there’s no wall. There are lots of story prompts waiting for you and for each successive chapter, and you’ll have a goal you’re writing toward. You’re always allowed to change it and go somewhere else, but at least you have an ending in mind for all of these characters you’re creating.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Here are my Top 10 Tips for Writers.
- Write every day. Every unfinished book happens with the author skipping writing for just one day. One becomes two becomes five years. Write every day. A week off will make your keyboard feel like a pincushion. Not writing should be hell for you.
- Finish your story. I don’t care if you have great ideas every day, make a note and finish the one in front of you. Every author has a pile of great ideas they put in a shoe box or computer file. Authors finish stories. Know what we call a person who starts ten stories and finishes none? We don’t call them published authors.
- Have an outline. It does not limit you. It’s not stifling your creativity. It’s focusing your creativity like a laser beam. With an outline, every day when you sit down, you know what you’re going to write about next. You don’t have to write your chapters in order. Write about whatever’s exciting you in the story. An outline will save your bacon most of the time. People who have writers block are people who don’t use outlines.
- Join a critique group. Helping other writers will be the fastest way to sharpen your eyes for the mistakes you are making in your own work.
- Use beta readers. When you think the story is done, send it out to people to read it and send it back to you with their comments. Some will find typos, but most will just say they loved it or they will point out things that weren’t working for them. It’s much better to find those things out before you publish the book, because you’re going to find out one way or the other. You can either find out before you publish or after you publish, and finding out after you publish is usually when you get a bunch of bad reviews, so do it before you publish by using beta readers.
- Ten is a lot. I should have called this a Top 8 List. I’m getting tired. Expect typos now.
- Writing doesn’t have to be a lonely venture. Go to seminars and conferences. Join a critique group. You’ll connect with like-minded individuals who understand the challenges. Chat with them on Messenger and do an occasional Skype call or get together for coffee if they live close by. If you aren’t abducted and murdered, you’ll bond and help each other grow as writers.
- Have confidence. I work with too many writers that lack confidence. Nobody punches you in the nose because they didn’t like your story.
- You’re a better writer than you think. I hold writing contests on my blog DanAlatorre.com, and I see the stuff people send in. I critique every entry, and 90% are better writers than they think, they just don’t let people see their stuff so they don’t know how good they are. Most are pretty good.
- The other thing I would say as far as advice for aspiring authors is, never refer to yourself as aspiring. You’re there. You’re a writer. You’re a poet. If you’re doing it, you are it, whatever that “it” is. Aspiring is almost demeaning to yourself. You can do it and you probably are doing it. If you complete a novel and nobody’s seen it yet, you’re not really aspiring anymore. Maybe you are aspiring for fame and fortune and to write full-time, but you are definitely already an author.
The sooner you think of yourself that way, the sooner it will be so.
I hope you all have enjoyed this special three-part series on Dan Alatorre. If you haven’t had a chance to check out his website, you definitely should. It is filled with all kinds of useful information.
As always, thanks for stopping by and I hope you have an awesome day.