David Farland’s Writing Tips: Bad Practices, Good Practices, Best Practices

I was speaking with Forrest Wolverton about a writer we both knew who “couldn’t seem to write.” He’d written well before, but now just wasn’t getting the words on paper. He felt blocked. Forrest asked him to remember back to times when he had written easily three years earlier, and he described how he would sit down with a cup of coffee, open his word processor, and then begin to compose.

However, he’d changed his routine back then. He’d decided that he would check his email before writing. So before he began to write, he checked his email. Then he’d go on Facebook, since he often had messages there. Then he’d “play a videogame for a bit.”

Therein we found the problem.  This string of behaviors that delayed his writing actually ended up sabotaging him.

He’s not alone.  I know one New York Times bestseller who recently told me that he had gotten addicted to a videogame that cost him three years of his life. Another one spent eight hours a day on social media. A third drank beer after beer while waiting for inspiration.

It seems that all of us, from time to time, can fall into bad habits.  Most people with bad habits don’t publish often. But just because you don’t have terrible habits, doesn’t mean you’ll do well. Some people who manage to write consistently at a high level still don’t have stellar careers.

Over the past eight months, I’ve interviewed perhaps 50 writers for Apex. (Nearly all of these past interviews are available to Apex members.) Many of them are quite successful. Some are #1 New York Times best-sellers. Others top the USA Today or Amazon charts. I ask our authors about their writing practices, how they publish, and what works for them.  Sometimes it has surprised me to find one author’s indie tactics have worked at all. There are more ways to make a living in this business than I imagined. As I listen to their publishing methods, I’ve discovered that nearly all of them—and nearly all of us, I’m sure, fall short of our potential. Authors typically find a way to write and sell books, and then they settle in at that plateau.

I’ve sometimes suggested things the author could do to boost his or her sales, but many feel they are already working about as hard as they want to.

It raises a question: Are you satisfied with doing what works, or would you prefer to change a little and do what works best?

For example, instead of opening your email before you write, could you wait for three hours and do it on a break (setting a time limit to answer)?  Instead of just putting your books up on Amazon and advertising to your mailing list, would you consider some targeted ads that might double your income?

Can we evolve beyond “good practices” and adopt “best practices?”

During this coming year, I intend to write more than I ever have before. I intend to sell more than ever before.  My goal is to adopt the “best practices” of the most productive and successful writers in the business.

That is the whole reason I created Apex. I noticed a lot of students were good writers, but didn’t belong to writing groups. Many of them seemed stuck. They weren’t quite getting published, or never seemed to find time to finish a novel, or weren’t breaking onto the bestseller lists.

Many times, when we associate with successful authors we begin to subconsciously model their attitudes and behaviors. If we see Sara hitting the bestseller list, we try to do the same.  If she has a publisher or agent who works well for her, we might contact them.

Behavior modeling is a powerful tool.

People like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis used behavior modeling when they created the Inklings, and it seemed to me that with the use of the internet, I could bring some of the hottest writers in the world together to create a writing super group that could someday become  legendary.

It’s working. One of our Apex members, Robert Zangari, just won an award for best fantasy e-book of the year. Another Apex author, Shauna O’Meara, just won Australia’s Aurealis award for Best Short Story, and so on. Other writers have finished first novels (sometimes after years or trying), while others have been selling movie rights. We’re just getting started.

Here’s to best practices!


the “Writing Epic Novels” live-online workshop starts september 8th! This workshop runs from september to january. This is the last chance to sign-up! Each week we will be looking at some of the greatest books of all times and dissecting how achieve their greatness. Then in january you will have assignments to help you start your own masterpiece. Sign up here: http://mystorydoctor.com/live-workshops-2/

This is not one to miss!

Down about conventions being canceled? Apex-Writers has got you covered!
We’ve got a stellar lineup of guests for September!

Forrest Wolverton, Master NLP Practitioner- Aug. 29,2020
JC Kang, USA Best-Selling Author-Sep. 5th, 2020
Mike Anderle, Founder of 20Booksto50K-Sep. 8th,2020
Lazarus and Echo Chernik, Elite Commercial Artists-Sept. 12, 2020
Terry Brooks, 23 times NYT Best-Selling author- Sep. 15th, 2020
ML Wang, Best-Selling Author- Sep. 22th,2020

Throw in thousands of dollars in writing classes, along with access to writing groups after the various workshops, and you’ll get an idea of what we’re about. And right now the price is only $209 a year, or less than $20 per month. Go to www.thecompleatwriter.com to learn more and find out how to join.

The next iteration of Fyrecon is coming up in november! Go to fyrecon.com to sign up for my live masterclasses for a stellar price!
We have about one more week to sign up for my “Writing Epic Novels” live-online workshop. You need to sign up in advance to get the writing, reading, and other assignments. The live event will be held on saturdays in january. Learn more at http://mystorydoctor.com/live-workshops-2/

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