Friday Links: Inspiration to Get Your Writer Brain in Gear

Another Friday has arrived, and with it that sense that it’s time to get busy. The holidays are already in sight — if you judge by retailers, Halloween is moments away — and with them come all sorts of new distractions and obligations. So now is the time to set yourself in writing mode — whatever that means for your current project. Need to do some plotting? Have a list of research questions to tackle? Ready to pull something out of the drawer and get down to a serious edit? Or maybe you’ve been procrastinating getting those first sentences down on an empty first page. Whatever your goal, wherever you stand, it’s time to leap. Think how accomplished you will feel once you’ve made that next bit of progress.

This week’s links are rather a hodgepodge of different sorts of inspiration. Things to read, authors to admire, new ground to cover, and hints to help polish your work. In many ways, it’s my favorite sort of week because diverse links make for more connections with all of you, and also provide plenty of ways for you to stretch your writer brains. So take a look and see what strikes your fancy. Enjoy, and happy writing!

Planes Flying Over a Monster: The Writing Life in Mexico City – An armchair tour of the writing community in Mexico City.

6 Books that Get What It’s Like to Work Online – With more and more people working from home and using the internet as place of employment, these titles are relatable on many levels. Plus they’re just good reads.

Against Accessibility: On Robert Irwin, Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Imbolo Mbue’s “Behold the Dreamers” – A commentary on the somewhat narrow selection of modern African fiction available to Western readers.

How non-English speakers are taught this crazy English grammar rule you know but have never heard of – Fascinating look at this more intuitive aspect of English grammar structure.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Final Unpublished Collection Set for Spring 2017 Release – Yet another “lost” work by a revered writer.

Lisa Lucas Wants to Make Reading Fun Again – An interview with the new(ish) director of the National Book Foundation, in which she discusses her goals and her attitude toward reading.

100 African Writers of SFF: Part One, Nairobi – Not just a list of authors and/or books, but information about the country and profiles that include background, influences, etc.

The Writer’s Toolkit: 6 Steps to a Successful Writing Habit with Simon Van Booy – Information about the author’s new self-paced writing course available on, for anyone who wants a little kick in the pants.

Fast and Furious: On Writing the Lousy First Draft

I see a lot of struggling writers. I mean that literally. Living in the Los Angeles area means I cannot walk into a coffee shop without tripping over a half-dozen or so aspiring writers pounding away at their keyboards or, more often, staring into space with a slightly pained expression on their face. Many of them are writing screenplays, but a good number are working on novels or short stories or some sort of nonfiction project. They all, however, share that general aura of one who suffers.

No one said writing was easy. This is not an industry that promises overnight success and a hefty bank balance. However, it’s also not digging ditches or lugging heavy platters of food out to grumpy diners or scraping gum off the bottom of chairs at the local elementary school. It is not strenuous manual labor, nor does anyone’s life depend upon it. On the overall career spectrum, this definitely lands closer to the fun end of things.

Writing allows you to mine your creativity, delve deep into your imagination, research intriguing and sometimes bizarre subjects, talk to interesting people, and visit new places, if only in your head. So while you certainly want to take your writing seriously, assuming you’re either aiming for publication or already have a deadline looming, you also want to enjoy yourself.

Take the pressure off that first draft and just write. Get it down however it flows from your mind. Write quickly. Let your fingers fly over the keyboard or scribble with your favorite pen. No one’s first draft is gold; no one’s first effort comes out perfectly worded. Allow yourself to suck. You’ll be in excellent company. And remember that a first draft is just that — a draft. It’s a mind dump. A way for you to figure out what you might be talking about, who your characters are, what the deal is. There’s plenty of time to revise later, to move things around and add and delete, to ramp up the tension, to make the prose sing. Later. Second draft, third, fourth. Don’t worry about those yet.

First draft. Fast and furious. Just write. And smile while you’re doing it. The other writers will wonder what you’ve figured out…