manifesto

A Writer’s Credo

I really don’t want to write today. I’m doing everything I can to avoid it. If I were a hobbyist or an amateur that would be fine, but I am not, so I am going to take a few moments to restore my vision and put the fire back in myself, and then I am going to write. I hope this helps you too.

1. I write kick-ass stories. I make worlds of wonder and delight, with crooked, clever, funny little people and unexpected alleys and mechanisms that inspire the real world to become better. Every word I write is worth it because every word gets me closer to the revelation of a beautiful, fascinating world full of life and growth and beauty and brilliance. Each of those worlds can make many lives better.

2. I write because I care about the craft. If I want my story to be perfect, the solution is to write faster and truer, not to hold back and slow down. Word count is my raw material. A high-intensity distillation takes a high quantity of raw materials. As a writer, I have the luxury of freely creating as much material as I need. All it takes is time and will.

3. I write because stories last. Once my story is done it can spread to countless people around the world over many generations. Once the quality is there, my story can do what it does for as many people as find it. Every hour I put in now has the potential to multiply its impact by the thousands.

4. Writing is fun. I get to write what I want, the way I want, because it’s what I enjoy. Nobody is telling me what tone I have to use or what content to cover or making me fit in links or keywords. I can run free and go wild. I can try new things, hide in-jokes, build worlds, tweak societies, create new customs and creatures, and send my people into hilarious and gripping and heart-warming moments, exactly however I want to. Yes, the story builds its own constraints, but even that is just the manifestation of the world I’ve chosen to work and play in.

5. I write because ideas are important. I don’t rehash dead plots and I don’t ask questions just to preach an answer I already know. Stories are the best and richest way to deeply explore the questions that cut deep into me, to test out the theories I’m not brave enough to speak in real life, to build whole worlds that work on beautiful or interesting principles and play them out to the end. My stories are laboratories where I can experiment with all kinds of what-ifs, where person doesn’t have to mean human and moving doesn’t have to mean living and magic can be part of science and definitions can visibly matter to practical life and decisions. There is nowhere else in my life that I have total freedom to ask the deep questions and trace the answers out wherever they may go.

6. I write because I care about people. I don’t know why I get to have such a good life when so many people are so sad and alone and afraid, but I have this one chance to write stories that will lead people into worlds that show that a different life is possible. It’s not just about escapism and it’s not just about distracting people from their troubles for a little while. It’s about realigning our views of how the world should work and how the world can work. It’s about helping people care about people again and spreading great ideas about things worth trying and cracking open the possibility that even the real world is different than you thought it was. A good story sends ripples into the real world. It’s not just a dream; it’s a warcry.

7. I write hard because I only have this lifetime to get my stories out into this world. This time next year I’ll wish I’d written twice as much today as I did. Five years out I’ll either still be dithering with a novel draft or I’ll have lots of stories in the world and lots of people finding them and real momentum on the next ones. Decades from now I’ll regret all the times I spent surfing the web and frittering time instead of writing more words. Better a poor showing and a few dozen words than a failure to even show up.

8. I write fast because it’s a rush. I can keep the flow going by refusing to slow down and refusing to worry about how it’s coming out, and once the flow gets going there’s nothing like it. There’s always time to edit later, but in this moment, my one job is to write.