Writing a Book: Try what works for others first

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It’s hard to write a book while you work full-time at something else. It’s even harder because you still have family and social obligations.  Those relationships matter. It would be great if you didn’t lose your mind, too.

You’ll try any writing tip that promises it will make everything work. no matter how outrageous. You could learn a thing or two from Damon Runyon.

Runyon was a newspaper man and a short story writer. His short stories were about nightlife in Prohibition-Era New York. His characters had memorable names, like “Nathan Detroit” and “Goodtime Charlie.” Two of his stories were turned into the musical, “Guys and Dolls.”

Runyon did more than work as a newspaperman and write great short stories. He also played the horses. A lot. That’s why he came up with the line that you should remember every time you’re tempted to try some wacko writing tip. Here’s what Runyon said.

“The race may not always be to the swift, nor victory to the strong, but that’s how you bet.”

Whether you’re a full-time writer or a part-time writer, the big challenge is to write more better stuff in less time. To chase that goal, try different things. If you want to write more good stuff in less time, it won’t happen if you continue to do what you’re doing today. Start by trying things that have worked for everybody else first. That’s the way to bet.

Most writers do their best work in a two-and-a-half-hour period that starts about an hour after they get up. Try that first. That’s the way to bet. If it doesn’t work, try something else.

Here’s another one. Most writers do their best work in blocks of about 50 minutes followed by a break. Try that first. That’s the way to bet. If it doesn’t work, try something else.

Are you picking up a pattern here? If you want to get better, start by trying what works for most people. That’s the way to bet. If it doesn’t work, try something else.

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