Max Brooks's newest book is the graphic novel The Harlem Hellfighters, which tells the story of the first African-American regiment sent into combat by the U.S. Army in WWI. Below, he shares his five writing tips.
1. Just do it. Writing, like anything, takes practice and discipline, and I’ve found that discipline comes from a lifetime of repetition. I started writing when I was 12 and it’s made the action as normal as any other activity.
2. Drafts. Nothing is more intimidating than a blank page. Writing in drafts helps to diffuse some of that pressure. My rough draft has one goal; to write “The End.” I have the next 200-300 drafts to make it good.
3. I always write for me. I write what I want to read. I have no idea what will be popular, but if it’s a story I like, at least I can guarantee that it’ll have one fan.
4. I’m very careful who I let proofread my unfinished work. Too often people will want to rewrite the entire story or take it in a direction I never intended. Vetting proofreaders over time allows me to find eyes and brains that want to help me get where I originally intended to go.
5. I married the right person! That’s the most important tip I can give to any artist. It’s hard out there, unpredictable, distracting, and, at times, heartbreaking. My wife knows me better than I know myself and is critical in keeping my mind and heart on the right track. Without her as my battle-buddy, who knows where I, and my work, would be.