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Sam Audley blog posts

‘A Few Words a Day’ and Other Writing Myths

Sam Audley

How many articles have you read saying that you have to write a few words every day to be an author? I know I’ve read many along those lines and I’ve heard many authors wheel out the same comment when talking about their craft. Numbers of words are often cited as though they were a tenet of faith to which an author must adhere or be damned, and invariably five hundred to a thousand words a day is quoted. 

Certainly, we all need to apply ourselves to our writing or our novel does not progress, but I think that setting an unnatural benchmark misses the point that creativity is just that and it cannot be rushed or forced in any way. For me the thought of writing some rubbish every day just to comply with a myth about the best way to write is complete nonsense.

Given that we are all different, why should our writing styles all be squeezed into the same sausage-making machine to emerge in exactly the same shape? Surely the content is more critical and to create nuanced and readable …

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Did You Hear The One About?

All good jokes usually revolve around three people and, for reasons of balance, so should a good book. Not people in the sense of different nationalities or characteristics but in the sense of different facets of the writer.

The transition from creative chaos to coherent complexity demands three aspects of a writer’s persona to be in complete harmony. To illustrate the point I will term these facets The Creator, The Colourist and The Critic.

There is an inherent chaos about the creative process of writing. The flow of a good narrative often takes a more zigzag path than would be acknowledged by those writers who advocate a fixed structure. But this is The Creator at work and the creative process is, for the most part, an absolute joy. When new ideas come to the writer the writing just flows. Frequently it does not fit within the constraints of a rigid plan and nor should it.

But to create a three-dimensional plot the writer must also add depth through …

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Editing and the Invisible Gorilla

Your book is now complete. You tell yourself that it is a masterpiece. So, why on earth do you need an editor? Isn’t that overkill? Surely the editor will only pick holes in your work and, possibly, expect you to rewrite whole sections?

I would like to show you why an editor is a critical part of the end-to-end process of producing a book and I would like to demonstrate why by citing the case of the Invisible Gorilla.

The Invisible Gorilla refers to an experiment that was run by two academics, Simons & Chabris, at Harvard University in 1999. This can be found on their website and is called the Original Selective Attention task. A group of individuals were asked to look at a video and count the number of passes that the basketball players, dressed in white, made to each other during the clip. Only at the end were they asked whether anyone had seen the gorilla. Surely, you think, the participants would see something that obvious. But, …

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