Ever wonder what it takes to grab a coveted position on a bestselling list? Kevin J. Anderson, Christopher Golden, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Katherine Kurtz, and Harry Turtledove sat down with Nancy Knight in the Hyatt Regency VI-VII on Friday to talk about the good, the blocked, and the ugly parts of being an author.
With the all of the gloriousness that is technology, gone are the days of writers being chained to their desks. In excellent multi-tasking fashion, Anderson uses a dictation device and goes hiking for several miles. Afterward, he can have 45 pages of text done. Anderson credits his ability to do this to his method of outlining his novels in “excruciating detail.”
One of the most difficult parts and fears for a writer is the dreaded writer’s block. When asked the question of how to overcome being stuck, Turtledove had the most eloquent response with his inelegant method. First, write down the first word you think of. Next, write a word that goes with the first word. Then, write another word that goes with the first two words. Pretty soon you will have a sentence and then a paragraph. To Kurtz, the problem isn’t being blocked, it is that some characters fight you. The solution, “sometimes I have to kill off a character.”
Everyone has ups and downs in life and careers. Knight asked the panel to describe their least favorite moment so far in their career. Kenyon was first to respond that, after six bestsellers, there was a four-and-a-half-year period where she could not sell “outfits to dog kennels” and had to start her career over.
So what does it take to go from wanting to be a writer to being a beloved bestselling author? Just keep writing, never give up, never surrender, and always finish. Golden stated it most succinctly: “Write as much as you can, read as much as you can, and talk with other writers.”