Blarg!

Bill's blog. Writing, guitars, gratuitous Simpsons references, you'll find i​t all here. Almost certainly a waste of time for both you and the author. On the internet, that's actually a plus.

New column at Writer Unboxed: The Hack's Guide to Killing Your Darlings

photo by  Henry Söderlund

My new column is up at Writer Unboxed, and I unpack the classic writing advice, "Kill your darlings." Read your work until you find a spot where your writing really jumps out at you. Does it inspire and spark joy? Welp, that’s a darling, and it's time to murder that sucker.

You may be tempted to say that I’m deliberately misunderstanding the meaning of “Kill your darlings” just to be a contrarian jerk. Buddy, the spirit of the law was the first darling I killed.

The Hack’s Guide to Killing Your Darlings

New column at Writer Unboxed: The Hack's Guide to Writing an Outline

photo by    Rex Dingler

photo by Rex Dingler

My new column at Writer Unboxed is up today. It’s called “The Hack's Guide to Writing an Outline,” and features great advice like this:

Some people think of an outline as an instruction manual for writing your book. I like to think of an outline as the literary equivalent of the people in your life who enable your writing career while you take them for granted and give them very little in return.

Read the whole thing here.

Here's a link to a bunch of my columns that I did not mention on my blog for no good reason

It’s been a busy summer, and nothing has paid the price of my full calendar more than this very website. I’ve published several of my “Hacks for Hacks” columns at Writer Unboxed since my last blog update, and rather than feel guilty about it for one second longer, I’m gonna go ahead and link to them here.

Check them out and enjoy!

New column: The Definitive Packing List for Authors

Photo by  Lisa Iaboni

Photo by Lisa Iaboni

Are you a writer going on a trip? I've got a list of what you need to pack. Read my column, The Definitive Packing List for Authors, at Writer Unboxed dot com. Here are a couple items:

  • Your preferred e-reading device. You can fit an entire library into your pocket. By keeping the book you’re currently reading on your Kindle, you can save room for the hardback editions of UlyssesInfinite Jest, and a bunch of other classics you want people to think you’re reading.
  • A notebook and pens. I recommend buying a new notebook specifically for this trip. It will make it feel more like a special occasion. Make sure to get something that will look good in the Smithsonian when they create the exhibit on how you wrote your masterpiece on this trip. The main thing is that you set lofty goals for your trip to keep yourself motivated, and that you feel like a failure if you don’t meet them.
  • Your laptop. Duh, you’ll need it for writing. The fact that 60% of that writing will be updates to your various social media accounts should not deter you.

Read my new column, "Beyond the Coffee Shop: Great Places to Write Away From Home"

Photo by  Frank Denardo

Photo by Frank Denardo

New column today! Read it! It's called, "Beyond the Coffee Shop: Great Places to Write Away From Home" Here's an excerpt:

Room 19 at the Park Plaza Motel in South Sioux City, Nebraska: The TV doesn’t work, so you won’t have distractions. There’s no room service, so you won’t be tempted to eat loads of junk food. The place isn’t on the map, isn’t in the phone book, isn’t supposed to even exist anymore, so you won’t get any interruptions. You can’t remember how you got here, so that means you must’ve been really absorbed in your work. There’s a nameless dread in the pit of your stomach, which you hope means you’re on the verge of a breakthrough in your story.
There’s a knock at the door, which spells out your True Name in Morse code.
That means it’s time.

New column: Passive Aggressive Christmas Gifts for Writers 

photo by cedwardmoran on Flickr

photo by cedwardmoran on Flickr

My new column is up at Writer Unboxed, just in time for your holiday shopping: Passive Aggressive Christmas Gifts for Writers. Here's an excerpt:

  • For an unpublished writer: A new display shelf where they can put all their publications. Let the shame of an empty shelf motivate them to succeed! When this shelf inevitably becomes cluttered with junk mail and their kids’ homework, clear it off for them and say, “Got to leave space for all those best-sellers and cult classics!” Cost: $50
  • For your insecure friend: Breath mints, especially if they don’t need them. Cost: $2
  • For your hipster friend who still writes with a typewriter:A truly hideous paperweight for all their typed pages. Every time they feel the joy of completing another page, they’ll have to look at the ceramic monstrosity you gave them, thus slowing their momentum the tiniest little bit. Be careful, though—if it’s too ugly, your hipster friend will think it’s cool. Cost: $20

Go read the whole thing before the stores close!

Passive Aggressive Christmas Gifts for Writers

My new column is up! The Author’s Guide to Twitter: 280-characters Edition

Read my new column, "The Author’s Guide to Twitter: 280-characters Edition" at Writer Unboxed. It's good. 

Here's an excerpt:

Recently, Twitter allowed some users to write tweets of up to 280 characters instead of the usual 140. Issues like harassment, online bullying, and potentially inciting nuclear war are important, but they had to wait so Twitter could make sure jerks like me would have more sand in their sandboxes, apparently. It is my gift, it is my curse. I take this responsibility very seriously, and I feel a certain noblesse oblige to help other writers who have been or will one day be granted this awesome power. If you’re an author, a writer, or just someone willing to visit this website and click the banner ads, it is your solemn duty to read this column and learn how to wield your words effectively in this expansive new landscape.

The Author’s Guide to Twitter: 280-characters Edition

New column: Please do not support my Patreon

Have you heard of Patreon? It’s a company that empowers crowd-sourced patronage of the arts, including but not limited to authors. By pledging monthly support at one of various patronage tiers, each with its own level of perks and rewards, you’re able to support your favorite writers directly. I have recently started my own, and it is my fondest wish that your patronage does not include me.

Read more at Writer Unboxed.

New Column: How to Defeat Impostor Syndrome

Photo credit:  Petteri Sulonen

Photo credit: Petteri Sulonen

This month, I tackle impostor syndrome. It's something that people in lots of careers experience, not just writers. Here's a quick excerpt:

Impostor syndrome is like an earworm; it gets stuck in your head till it drives you crazy, and the easiest way to get rid of it is to give it to somebody else. Mention to a friend how similar their novel is to one of your favorites, the one that everybody has read and is now sick of. Point out how the magazine that published their latest short story is going under because their terrible stories made their subscribers set themselves on fire.

How to Defeat Impostor Syndrome