Tips to aspiring writers from Ben Bova

THE WRITER’S CRAFT

No two writers work exactly the same way, but there are certain things that any writer must do to be successful.

Here are some of them:

Write every day

The most important thing is to work. Work every day. It is best to set aside a particular time of the day (or night) for your writing, and then
write during that time at least five or six days each week. Let nothing interfere with your writing time.
It may be as little as one single hour. You may produce only a page or two per day. But if you stick with it, day after day, your output of
pages will mount up.

All writers have bad days.

Listen to Joseph Conrad: “I sit down religiously every morning. I sit down for eight hours a day — and the sitting down is all. In the course
of that working day of eight hours I write three sentences which I erase before leaving the table in despair….Sometimes it takes all my resolution
and power of self-control to refrain from butting my head against the wall.”

Despite his bad days, Conrad had enough good ones to write Lord Jim, Heart of Darkness, and many other classic novels and short
stories.

Don’t worry if you have a day or two in which you can’t produce even one decent page.
Stay at it!
Try your best, every day.
The words will come.
It is so easy to find a reason for not writing. Writing is hard, grueling work; it’s much easier to do something else. Especially if you
have a “real” job that demands eight hours a day or more, it is difficult to make the time for writing. Yet that is precisely what you must do. Make
the time. Writers don’t “find” the time to write. They make time for their writing.

Family, friends, job, all the other pleasures and obligations of your life must take second place to writing. If you are going to be a successful writer, you must write. Every day. Preferably, at the same time every day.

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Here is another tip:

Read widely.

The most important thing a writer can do, aside from writing, is reading.
Books are the memory of the human race. Thanks to our invention of writing, you can share the thoughts of the greatest minds that ever lived.

Not that you should restrict yourself to someone else’s idea of what the Great Books are. Read what you enjoy. But make certain that you don’t
confine yourself to one narrow type of book. Read as widely as you can. Fiction, history, biographies, travel tales…read everything and anything
that interests you. Your imagination will be enriched. Your curiosity will be excited. Your knowledge will grow.

Once you’ve read a book and particularly enjoyed it, go back and read it again. This time, though, try to discover how the author tackled the
problems of telling his or her story. Whether the work is fiction or fact, the author had to make hundreds of choices about constructing that story.
Read carefully and see where you might have made a different choice, emphasized a different facet of the tale, shaded things a bit brighter or darker,
moved a segment closer to the beginning or farther back toward the end.
You can learn a lot by reading, and then analyzing what you’ve read.

Reading widely (and deeply) will help you to learn how to write well.
But don’t fall into the trap of trying to imitate something you’ve read!
Speak with your own voice, tell your own tales. Aping work that you admire will almost always produce second-rate work. You don’t to be a reflection;
you want to shine with your own light.