Tips for Aspiring Writers 07: A writing professor helps you achieve “famousity”

by Angelique on December 7, 2010

When I read 21 Steps to Writing Famousity by University of New Hampshire writing professor Clark Knowles, I had to share!

There are many “roadmaps for writing.” This one caught my eye because it’s specifically about stories and it combines manual writing and keyboarding techniques. And it’s kind of funny!

Photo of Clark Knowles21 Steps to Writing Famousity
by Clark Knowles

Step 1. Work the daily practice. Just write.

Step 2. Adopt 3×5 cards as a method because some very great writers have done just that. The next Nabokov? Hmmmm….

Step 3. Figure out that the notecards don’t work for stories, but do work as a prelude for writing.

Step 4. Label notecards for each day of the month and clip them together.

Step 5. Get up. Get silent and centered. Don’t be too awake. Don’t pound coffee. Block out the voice that tells you to do bills or laundry. Take out notecard. Write whatever comes–image, journal entry, rambling self-absorption. Fill front and back of card. Put in drawer.

Step 6. Immediately pull out the notebook into which you are writing stories.

Step 7. Read the last paragraph you wrote (and always end your daily writing with an unfinished sentence) and write your daily allotment. No stopping unless absolutely necessary.

Step 8. Finish the project this way. Day after day, compile hand-written stories.

Step 9. Transcribe each story into the computer. Don’t think. Just type. Don’t worry about grammar or making it awesome. Don’t worry about formatting or whether or not you should double space. Don’t return to a story until you’ve typed them all.

Step 10. Work your way through each story. Make each one as good as you can.

Step 11. Print the stories.

Step 12. Now the real work begins.

Step 13. Work on one story at a time.

Step 14. Be ruthless in your reading. Make each sentence count. Don’t accept the lie that it’s “okay.” Work it hard.

Step 15. Open a blank document and retype the story.

Step 16. Move onto the second story.

Step 17. Move onto the third, fourth…etc.

Step 18. Read stories aloud from the screen. Make changes as you go.

Step 19. Print stories, read each one aloud, making changes on the hard copy as you go.

Step 20. Retype each story again.

Step 21. Send stories to literary magazines for immediate acceptance, quickly followed by wealth and power.

Clark Knowles lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire with his wife Gail, daughter Grace, dopey beagle Fielding, and lazy cat Evil. He teaches writing at the University of New Hampshire. His fiction has appeared in Glimmertrain Stories, Inkwell, Zahir Tales, Black Warrior Review, Scribners Best of Fiction Workshops 1999, The Flying Horse Review, and Red Rock Review. The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts recently awarded him an Individual Artist’s Fellowship for the year 2009. He received his MFA in Writing and Literature from Bennington College.

Have questions? Please ask! The comment section is below!