2. Know where you’re going
You don’t “find the book as you write.” You have to do the hard work of solving the problem first. You have to figure out the best route, too.
10. Love the process
If you’re in it for external rewards, god help you… A Confederacy of Dunces was rejected by publishers… after the author’s suicide, it won the Pulitzer. People don’t know shit. YOU know. So love it while you’re doing it. Success can only be extra.
7. Strenuous exercise
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought of a great line or solved an intractable writing problem while running or swimming.
8. Have a model in mind
Thucydides had Herodotus. Gibbon had Thucydides. Shelby Foote had Gibbon. Every playwright since Shakespeare has had Shakespeare. Everyone has a master to learn from. (For me it’s been @robertgreene)
9. Don’t talk about the book (as much as you can help it)
Don’t talk about projects until you’re finished. Save that carrot for the end. Talking and doing fight for the same resources.
6. Work with great people
Success requires greater investment in the creative process. Pay for professional help. There’s that saying: if you think pros are expensive, try hiring an amateur.
4. Have something to say
“To have something to say,” Schopenhauer said, “by itself is virtually a sufficient condition for good style.”
5. Make commitments
I turn in a book proposal for my next book before my latest one comes out. When I have a commitment that I know I have to meet, Resistance doesn’t have the time or space to creep in. Meet deadline or death.
3. It’s all material
Turn all your bad experiences, your struggles, your pain, your mistakes into material. The obstacle is the way / antifragile…
1. Always be researching
The bulk of the work is researching—collecting stories, anecdotes, and data to marshal your argument. The writing is stringing those pieces together.