Thursday, May 1, 2008

How to Write Like Danny Waters, PT. 1

I was talking to a writer friend the other day who told me that most of the people that visit writers' websites are people that want to write and are looking for inspiration, guidance, or the "magic bullet" that will bring their own writing into print. I love reading about writing. I'm also a process junkie; I love to listen to people talk about how they write, why they write, what they write about, any of it. I'm always looking and listening for new techniques and habits to try in the hopes that doing so will make me more productive, my writing more moving, my desk less messy. So, in the spirit of giving back to the universe that gave me so much on the topic, today I give to you the first in a series that will inform you how to write like Danny Waters.

Please note that the *How* in this case refers to my work mannerisms and process, not style. I would never suggest that an aspiring writer should write like me. You should only write like yourself. Or Shakespeare. Or maybe like Jack Handey, the guy that writes Deep Thoughts, only because I am really greedy for more Deep Thoughts because he doesn't write enough of them for me, and if there were an army of Jack Handey clones then I could have an endless supply of Deep Thoughts.

Oh wait, this was supposed to be a generous post, not more evidence of my overwhelming selfishness. Ahem.

How to Write Like Danny Waters

1. Take seat in front of computer or blank paper (note: seat optional)

2. Begin blasting "Crushing Belial" by Shadow's Fall from whatever electronic device is handy. If no such device is present, start singing "Crushing Belial" as loud as you can

3. Start typing or writing

That's pretty much it. Lather, rinse, repeat. People who have observed me working say things like: "How can you even think with that crap playing?", "What is that awful song?", "Must you torture me?" and "I guess proper hygiene was the first thing to go for your 'art', huh?"

Little do they realize that the reason I listen to loud music isn't because it helps me think, but because it drowns them out and ideally drives them away (the bad hygiene is good for that, too). Which, come to think of it, helps me think.

I kid. But usually I've thought so much about what I want to write so much before I get in front of the computer or the paper that I'm ready to go, and the adrenal charge that loud fast music gives me helps me go quick. I fall into a rhythm, a cadence. By the time I get through the scene that I'd been thinking about I'm usually so deep into that weird world where it begins to feel more like channeling than writing that the process just starts to take over. After about fifteen minutes I couldn't even tell you what the last song playing was--and if the writing is going really well I couldn't even tell you what song was playing right then without stopping to listen.

Sounds crazy, but that's how I roll. Many people I know need total silence to write--I can't stand silence. I need noise, but not random noise. I'm not recommending my method, nor am I saying Don't Try This At Home. If you want to write, try anything and everything, and then settle on what works for you.

Five more days...five more days until Generation Dead is out. I really can't be held responsible for anything I write on this blog until then, including this entry.

BTW, I use the process above for writing, but not for editing--which takes me much, much longer and is where the rubber really meets the road. And yes, I've often suspected that maybe the editing wouldn't "take much, much longer" if I didn't listen to bone-crushing heavy metal when I write, but that's what works for me.

Also btw, I actually have exceptional--some would say fastidious, even--hygiene. I'm very clean, and I have a collection of pleasing colognes that I wear in liberal but not overpowering doses.

Just thought you should know.

Five days...

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

LOVED your book. :]

Daniel Waters said...

Hi anonymous!

LOVED your post. :]

Take care,

Dan

BloggingBooksGalore said...

I am about 1/2 way through the book and absolutely loving it. I'm somewaht disgruntaled that I have to go to my bookstore job today so I can't work through the last half till this evening. Oh well...I'll just take book breaks like my co-worker takes smoke breaks.

I know you are all geeked about this book coming out...but any word on a next book?

Daniel Waters said...

Hi Bloggingbooksgalore,

Can I call you BBG? Or is that one of the members of the Wu Tang Clan?

There is a second book in the works, the title of which is Kiss of Life. It will probably be out areound this time next year.

But hey! Let's let the first one come out first, okay? Two and a half days!

Thanks for your post.

Take care,

Dan

BloggingBooksGalore said...

I just finished the book...and wow I am so happy to hear there is another one. literally sigh of relief here...now I have this thing with hoping I can win the T-shirt that the story siren is giving away. I think my middle schoolers at summer camp would get a kick out of it (since I'm sure they will be stealing my copy...like they usually do to all my books during the summer...ahh the joys of being an unemployeed english teacher with mad amounts of books). In any case...I really hoping to get some copies of the book in at the little bookstore I work at so I can put it on my automatic pick shelf (even if we don't I'm ordering it so I can) plus when I'm not overwhelmed with work I'm gonna blog about the love for the zombies.

and yes...you can totally call me BBG...better than some names I get called =)

Daniel Waters said...

Thanks, BBG!

You must admit, that has a certain ring to it.

Good luck on the T-shirt.

Take care,

Dan

Rose said...

My process is a lot like yours...except, I write many times when I shouldn't be...haha

One thing I was wondering about was your experience with publishing and stuff. Just one of my many goals is to actually get a book published, by I have no idea about any of the process. Any insight?

-Rose

Daniel Waters said...

Hi Rose!

I make no claim that what I'm about to offer is good insight, only my experience. You asked about the process, which goes usually one of a few ways:
1. You write a great book
2. You get names of agents or editors from somewhere online or from one of the many agent/publisher guides available
3. You send out whatever is appropriate to your target's guidelines--sometimes just a letter, sometimes a letter and chapters, or a letter and outline, or the whole manuscript. Sometimes they want email, sometimes they want snail mail. They almost never want calls from a first time author
4. You wait
5. An agent or editor is interested. (I'd advise getting an agent first, but many would disagree).

In my experience, getting out of the cave was a much better Step Two--going out and going to workshops, conventions, etc. where you can actually meet some of these people and get your work closer to the top of the stack, and maybe even a smile when the person reads your stuff and remembers you.

But before you do any of that stuff, I'd recommend that you
A). Write a ton
B). Make sure that you can take a punch, and make sure that you won't throw one.


What I mean by that is that you need to make sure that you can deal with unpleasantness like criticism and rejection in an appropriate way. These things can hurt, and if you write from your heart the way all good writers do it becomes very difficult to realize that it is your WORK and not YOU that is being rejected and criticized. I was recently at an even with a few other writerswhose careers, if not their psyches, were hamstrung because they'd never learned how to deal with these things. In one case the writer had stopped submitting their work entirely because they couldn't take the criticism, in another case the writer lost work because they could not restrain themselves from lambasting an editor whose comments, he realized later, when the fire cooled, really were in both substance and in spirit intended to help. One writer couldn't take the punch, the other couldn't keep from throwing one. In neither case did it really have anything at all with the quality of their work. And neither condition will help your career.

The other thing is, be patient. There's always a place for good work.

I could write more on this topic, but by now I've probably put you and whoever else stumbled onto your post to sleep, so I'll stop now. Did I even begin to answer your question?

Thanks for posting.

Take care,
Dan

Anonymous said...

Dan,
I just got my book club to get your book and we are going to read it for our next book! Can't wait...

Maria (Gilmore Bros.)

Lindsay said...

Okay so... I went to the store and decided to look in the book section- just look- because I totally don't need anymore books since I have so many to read already.... but then I saw this cover with a cheerleader laying on it and the dark makeup and the title 'Generation Dead' and before I know it I'm reading the back cover and I've bought it and I'm reading it right now. I really really like it :]

So there's my story.