Last week I finished reading Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig. I knew of Wendig’s work after coming across his blog earlier this year, but this is the first of his novels I’ve read. I’d actually gone into the bookshop to look for a copy of Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey, which they didn’t have, spotted Blackbirds on the shelf and decided it was about time to give it a shot (and not knowing what I’ll go home with is one reason why I still prefer physical bookshops when given the choice).
What did I think? Well I’m not much of one to review books, but I will say it was very enjoyable. It’s a fast-based pulpy affair about a young woman, a drifter, who can foresee when people will die. Considering I was looking for the acclaimed Sandman Slim (I ended up buying it through the iBookstore) which is also an urban fantasy with pulp crime sensibilities, then this was a more than satisfactory purchase.
But Blackbirds isn’t the main reason I started writing this post. I actually wanted to recommend a link for writers. As I said, I first knew of Wendig through his blog, and his blog is chock full of advice for writers. Here are 25 of his personal rules for writing. You might not agree with all of them, I don’t, but that’s where the word “personal” comes in. However, I suspect you will find at least one nugget of gold relevant to you.
5. Aim Big, Write Small
Writers need goals. I don’t mean one goal. I mean a nearly endless and evolving series of goals — you don’t just say, “I’m going to write a novel.” Because, duh. That’s bare minimum shit. You want to have a career planned out. This isn’t a short game. It’s a long con. Look as far down the line as you can — to retirement, to cremation, to the time when nano-bots resurrect you to write one more bestselling holo-vid. That way, you can always course correct to try to move yourself further toward those goals. But — but! — whereas your career is a long-con, each story really is the short game. You want to keep your head in that story. You want to treat it like it’s everything, like everything hangs on this one project. (In part because it may.) To put it differently, have the larger path plotted out — but focus on each step upon that path as if it is your last.