Science fiction writer Stephen Barnes, best known for Zulu Heart, Lion's Blood and his Star Wars novelization, was also a television producer on such shows as The Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Stargate, and Baywatch. He shares these tips for writers.
Q: What is your method for overcoming writer’s block?
A: Writer's block is nothing more than a confusion of two different states of mind: the "flow" state where you create, and the "editing" state where you evaluate where you have written. So the trick is to divide your time into two completely different sessions, perhaps even days. Say...Monday, Wednesday, and Friday you produce new text, with no concern for spelling or even grammar. Just pound it out. Roll up your eyes, go into "alpha", visualize your scene and write what you see and hear.
On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday you re-write what you have written, polish, and plan the next day's work. And you'll discover, to your pleasure and relief, that what you've written, after a quick polish, is as good as anything you hunt-and-pecked and obsessed over.
Q: What are your favorite or most helpful writing prompts?
A: a) Write every day
b) Read 10X as much as you write
c) Take the writing dead seriously, but be sure to laugh at yourself.
Q: What is the most valuable advice you received as a young writer?
A: a) Write a story a week, or a story every other week
b) Finish what you write
c) Put it in the mail
d) Keep it in the mail until it sells.
e) Don't re-write except to editorial request
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