Tag Archives: Creative Writing

Reminder: Writing requires more than inspiration

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Once, at a book event, a man asked me how long a novel takes to write.

I told him that for most of my career I’ve written one novel a year.

He stepped back like I’d hit him in the forehead with a spitball. “No way. A book every year? That’s impossible.”

I assured him it was extremely possible. “Deadlines are fantastically motivating.”

He frowned and shook his head. “You can’t write to a schedule.”

“Professional writers do it all the time.”

His expression shifted toward disdain. “But you can’t schedule inspiration.”

As I started to reply, he went on. Writing regularly? Ridiculous. “That’s not how inspiration works,” he said. The idea that I would deliberately sit down to write, when inspiration hadn’t driven me to the keyboard… His lips pursed.

I realized: He thinks I’m a hack.

He thought that to have imaginative value, every word an author writes must originate in an ineffable bolt of creative lightning. Unplanned. Uncontrollable. That crafting a piece of writing renders it crass and somehow inauthentic. He was a businessman, not a novelist; he admitted that the writing process was entirely foreign to him. But no matter how I explained it, he couldn’t abandon the idea that I was doing writing wrong.

I’d been invited to this event to give a speech. I’d been flown across half a continent, actually, to tell an audience of 500 people how I came to be an author with more than a dozen published novels to my credit. By pure coincidence my talk, which I gave shortly after this conversation, discussed the interplay between inspiration and craft. Inspiration is wonderful, I said. But when you’re in the trenches writing a novel, constant inspiration is neither necessary nor sufficient. Grab it when it strikes. But when it doesn’t? That’s when experience, and discipline, and a knowledge of dramatic structure, along with an understanding of plot and character and suspense — in other words, craft — will carry you across the finish line. Then you can recharge. And revise.

Inspiration, I said, looks a lot like work.

I don’t know if the man who challenged me heard the speech. Our conversation had wrapped up when he commented that he guessed publishing is a business, so he supposed that writers need to supply it with material. Then he shrugged.

“What do I know about it? I don’t read.”

My AMAfeed event: read my answers

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Yesterday I did an Ask Me Anything event at AMAfeed.com. I answered questions about writing, writer’s block, story structure, characters, research, talent, and the worst review I ever received. Head on over and check it out.

Meg Gardiner — award winning thriller writer. Ask me anything!

May 21: Ask Me Anything at AMAfeed

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Monday, May 21, I’ll be hosting an AMA event on AMAfeed.com. That means you can head over and ask me anything. You can even ask your question right now. When the event goes live, I’ll reply.

Meg Gardiner — Ask Me Anything
May 21, 2018
2 P.M. Eastern

Check it out!

Upcoming Events

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In the next few months I have a number of events — a mix of talks, book signings, workshops, seminars, and conferences. Check ’em out.

David Ricciardi in conversation with Meg Gardiner
April 20, 2018
6:30 p.m.
Murder by the Book
2342 Bissonnet
Houston, Texas

Books on the Lake
In support of the Grosse Pointe Library Foundation
May 5, 2018
Noon – 3 PM
Grosse Pointe, Michigan

Texas Writes at the Bonham, Texas, Public Library
May 19, 2018
10 a.m. — 1 p.m.
Writing seminar and panel discussion with Meg Gardiner and David Eric Tomlinson. Free and open to the public.

Thrillerfest
July 10-14, 2018
Grand Hyatt, New York City
I’ll be teaching at Master Craftfest and Craftfest, and speaking at Thrillerfest.

Bouchercon
September 6-9, 2018
St. Petersburg, Florida

I hope I’ll have a chance to see some of you along the way!

I’ve been talking… to Texas Monthly, Seattle Review of Books, and more

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As part of the launch of Into the Black Nowhere, I did a bunch of talking. To readers, radio hosts, and magazines. Here’s a roundup. Just in case you want to know more about the novel, or my writing process, or which tunes I listen to when I write. Bonus: click through to enough articles, and you’ll see what I look like when I go axe throwing.

Meg Gardiner’s Dark Past — Texas Monthly

How Author Meg Gardiner Gets Into the Mind of a Killer — Austin Monthly

The Quintessential Interview: Meg Gardiner — Seattle Review of Books

Tracking the Darkness — The Big Thrill

The Kindle Chronicles Podcast

My Creative Mornings talk: Mystery & Storytelling

A while back I gave a talk to Creative Mornings, “a breakfast lecture series for the creative community.” Every month Creative Mornings picks a topic, and groups in 183 cities around the globe bring in local speakers to lecture on it. Earlier, I posted some of the artwork that people drew at the talk.

I spoke to Creative Mornings/Austin on the topic of Mystery. The video of my talk is now online. Here you go.

Signature’s 2017 Ultimate Writing Guide

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Y’all know I don’t just love to write. I love to talk about writing, and teach writing, and write about writing.

When UNSUB was published a few months ago, I wrote an article for Signature, the Penguin Random House online magazine. “Writing a New Series: A Guide to Creating a World from Scratch.” Now Signature has included the article in its annual writing guide — which you can download for free.

Signature’s 2017 Ultimate Writing Guide includes writing advice from twenty-two authors, including Jill Santopolo, Ammon Shea, Jan Karon, Tess Gerritsen, and me. It includes articles about how to:

  • Banish writer’s block,
  • Revise a draft without losing your mind,
  • Turn off your internal editor while writing,
  • Craft a believable world,
  • And much more.

The guide is cosponsored by Merriam-Webster. What are you waiting for? Download it now.