One of our clients forwarded us an email from a fan of hers– a 13 year-old boy who had just discovered her literature, and wanted to ask her advice about how he could get started on becoming a writer himself. Unable to hold herself back from chiming in, Molly Friedrich instantly compiled a list of Do’s and Don’ts for this young writer, and although I’ve shared an abbreviated form of this list already on Twitter (#mollyslist) , I wanted to post the unabridged list here for anyone interested. Keep in mind, this advice is directed at a 13 year-old! But I think there’s something here for everyone.
l. Hang onto your name, it’s already perhaps a best-selling name.
2. Keep reading. Then pick your favorite book and actually study it. Outline it. Figure out why it’s so compelling and terrific.
3. Read all the prize-winners of the last five years, two per month, from the Booker and the Pulitzer in Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award.
4. Then read the four most commercial writers of fiction on the Times Best-seller List. Try to figure out how on earth they got there. If you can’t stand James Patterson, then go to his very first book, ALONG CAME A SPIDER, and figure out what must have happened to launch him into the stratosphere of sales.
5. Do three things each day which have nothing to do with literature or any sort of book. Don’t forget to have a life, so that you’ll be able to pull upon something to write about, even if radically altered.
6. Read Michael Greenberg’s collection about the life of the free-lance writer, BEG, BORROW, STEAL. Brace yourself.
7. Stay away from social networking, Facebook, twittering, blogging, all of this. Your brain is still too young for such distractions and your neural paths will go haywire.
8. Grow up. Most prodigies who publish at age eighteen or so, fail to recover sufficiently to get it right in their ripe old twenties. Pay no attention to the Justin Bieber world that is inspiring an entire generation of nubile singers. You belong to a different nation.
9. Good luck to you, you’ll need it. At the end of the day, the decade, a good deal of success–after all the hard work–comes down to luck.
Too bad about the social networking caveat– she’s obviously not the one blogging this list! But perhaps we can all appreciate the irony. What do you think, folks– is there any advice you might add?