By Mark Stevens
If you’re addicted to reading and writing—like me—I’m here with a few tips so you can pack more into your day.
First, an important fact:
I only write—pen on paper—for about 45 minutes a day. Sometimes, it’s an hour. But most days, 45 minutes.
However, I’m thinking about those 45 minutes frequently throughout the rest of the day. I’m thinking about that precise moment in my current story—the attitude of my characters, what’s happening, what’s next, what they are thinking, what they will think next, what they will do next, what memory haunts them. Etcetera. You get the picture.
So when my 45-minute window rolls around, I’m writing (not thinking).
But what about the other 23 hours and 15 minutes?
Well, there’s work. And eating. And sleeping.
But my tip for being able to think about writing (and reading) more is to start listening to three dynamite podcasts—ideal for the car and for walks (mine happen to be with a dog).
- The Bookworm. Just listening to Michael Silverblatt chat with an author is incredibly inspiring, at least to me. This is ‘serious fiction,’ whatever that is, but I find his questions are thoughtful and the authors are a talented bunch from the literary side of the tracks.
- Scriptnotes. Yes, a podcast for ‘screenwriters,’ but it’s also about story structure and plot and characters. The three-page challenge is the most useful stuff—it’s where John August and Craig Mazin dissect the opening three pages of a screenplay for what works and what doesn’t. Many of the problems they find apply to writing fiction—and they post the challenges on their web site, too. Is there a similar podcast about ‘regular’ fiction writing? Want to start one? Let me know. In the meantime, check this out: http://johnaugust.com/podcast
- Authors on Tour. Do you see the events at The Tattered Cover and wish you could go? I do. Many of the presentations are recorded here. A great way to “meet” new authors or listen to famous ones—and find out how they approach their book tour presentations, how they answer questions. Inspiring—through and through. I’ve found several terrific authors this way. Just can’t your book signed.
I also like the Slate Audio Book Club, The Reading and Writing Podcast with Jeff Rutherford, The New Yorker Fiction Podcast (one short story per month, read by another famous writer, and includes a thoughtful discussion of the work). All of these are available on I-Tunes. All free. All will help you get more reading (and writing) into your day.
By the way, I’m serious about the podcast proposal. I’m thinking it would be very cool to have a podcast with an established agent, a publisher and an author discussing the business as well as the art.
Do you have a favorite podcast? Let me know. I’d love to check it out.