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Writing Tip: Will Alexander

I’ve invit­ed a group of top-notch writ­ers to share their writ­ing tips with you this sum­mer. Look for a new bit of learned expe­ri­ence each Tuesday.

Will Alexan­der: I find writ­ing rit­u­als tremen­dous­ly helpful—even when those rit­u­als are also ridicu­lous­ly sil­ly. If you light a can­dle, lis­ten to music that sounds like your protagonist’s per­son­al anthem, and/or throw your own solo dance par­ty right before you start writ­ing, then your brain will begin to rec­og­nize the can­dle, the music, and/or the danc­ing as a kind of cer­e­mo­ny that says I am about to do some­thing that mat­ters.

Just because I’m using the words “rit­u­al” and “cer­e­mo­ny” doesn’t mean that you have to take any of this seri­ous­ly. It might even work bet­ter if you don’t take it seri­ous­ly, because pre-writ­ing silli­ness like solo dance par­ties can also cre­ate a vac­cine against embar­rass­ment. By accept­ing man­age­able dos­es of fool­ish­ness you will strength­en your own immu­ni­ty to self-crit­i­cism, which will make it eas­i­er to write what­ev­er it is that you need to write.

Don’t for­get about that cer­e­mo­ni­al can­dle, though. Please don’t set your cat or your man­u­script on fire.

Please vis­it William Alexan­der’s web­site, so you can enjoy his fan­ta­sy and sci­ence fic­tion nov­els, includ­ing Gob­lin Secrets, win­ner of the Nation­al Book Award for Young Peo­ple’s Literature.

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