When I’m stuck for things to write about, when I’m stuck for writing inspiration, I usually turn to traveling down the youtube rabbit hole. “Author interview”, “writers on writing”, and “Charlie Rose author interview” are my favorite searches.
This time around, I got drawn into an author named Walter Mosley. He is captivating speaker, easy to like, easy to listen to. I wasn't planning on it, but pretty soon I was taking notes on everything Mosley was saying.
It's a lovely thing to grab on to the wisdom of someone who's put their whole life's work into a craft or a pursuit. And I can just take all of his advice for free! It's too good to be true...
Here are 7 things I learned from Walter Mosley:
1) The Writer’s Spirit: Mosley likens writers to explorers. He says that with every new character, writers are exploring the possibilities for new matter, new subjects.
2) Regarding Character: Novels are about the development of character. It’s how my character comes into the world, how they affect the world, and how the world affects them. They have to change. They have to find out something.
3) Windows into Other Worlds: A writer’s job is to answer the question, “what’s it like?” For example, “What’s it like to be a boxer in the ring?” “What’s it like to be a detective?” “What’s it like to be at sea for 90 days?”
4) Regarding Character and Conflict: Sometimes in books, you have a character (especially in the thriller or mystery genre) who is traveling down very straightforward path. For example, the detective is looking to solve a murder; or, the lawyer is trying to solve the case. But really, Mosley says, life is not that simple. In real life you have a lot of things, a lot of problems going on. It’s a lot of things coming together to create a much larger affect on the character. It’s not just that they have one, straight track to follow, or one single conflict to solve.
5) Writing Routine: Mosley claims that he writes 1,000 words a day. The next morning, he briefly edits that 1,000 words, then he writes the next 1,000.
6) Writing Schedule: His schedule is to write every day for about three hours, usually from from 6am to 9am, or from 7am to 10am. Mosley says, “Writing is almost a place of dreams for me. I do my writing early in the morning before most people are even up and going. Then for the rest of my day, I can go about my normal life. I don’t have to think about writing again until tomorrow.”
7) Regarding Younger and Older Generations: Mosley says, “The older you are, the more you live in the past.” A lot of older people get upset at young people, saying they’re shallow or selfish or whatever. Young people live exactly today, in the immediacy of their world. It’s important for old people to realize that a lot of their notions are no longer valid. They have to remember that young people are living in the now - for now it’s all they know.