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Episode Info: One of the staunchest enemies of great writing masquerades as an overzealous helper. It must be conquered, but not killed. You might be surprised to learn who it is. To unmask this enemy and give us strategies for domination, I interviewed James L. Rubart. Jim is my former co-host for the Novel Marketing show. He’s a bestselling author and a member of the Christie Hall of Fame. Today, he’s our writing guru on the mountain. Thomas Umstattd, Jr.: For a book to succeed, good writing must come first. It’s what we emphasize throughout The Five-Year Plan. Many authors think their book isn’t selling well because they don’t have great marketing. But often, it’s the weak writing that keeps the book from selling well. Since good marketing helps a bad book fail faster, writers need to improve their craft before they improve their marketing strategy. One enemy of good writing is the inner editor. Why do authors struggle to overcome their inner editor? Why is the inner editor a problem? Isn’t it helpful to have an internal editor whispering in your ear the whole time you’re writing?  James L. Rubart (Jim): The inner editor’s voice can be helpful, but the problem comes when a writer listens to it “the whole time.” Every author knows the inner editor slows down production, and production is key to having a successful career as an author. Authors must figure out how to produce more books if they want to have a career in writing. We’ve referred to our books as a 300-page brochure. In a sense, your book is an ad for your next book. If that brochure is captivating, it’s going to sell the next book. So how do we produce more brochures? We must deal with our inner editor. Thomas: The more books you write, the more books you sell. Many authors struggle to produce books fast enough. It might take a hobbyist several years to write a book, and that’s fine. But for the author who wants to make writing a career, they must write a book every few months. And to do that, authors must bind and gag the inner editor. At least temporarily. Why is the inner editor so hard to deal with? Jim: Ursula K. Le Guin authored speculative fiction for nearly 60 years, and she said, “As a writer, you are free. You’re about the freest person that ever was. Your freedom is what you bought with your solitude.” When I’m writing, I wrap myself in that solitude and hole-up in this little world than only I know. I sacrifice to get there. Maybe I sacrifice my social life, some family time, or my TV show. But when we are in that little cabin of our minds, there is tremendous freedom to write whatever we want. We can let our imaginations run wild to explore, create, and dream with abandon. I love that part of being a writer. Sometimes I feel like I’m at the center of the universe when I’m writing, and as the author, that’s where I should be. No one is looking over my shoulder to evaluate my writing. There are no j...
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