What do 30 Rock, American Dad! and The Office have in common? Steve Hely wrote for them! He also penned the acclaimed literary satire How I Became A Famous Novelist (which won the Thurber Prize for American Humour) and travel memoir The Wonder Trail (which received this review in the New York Times – ‘if you can let Mr. Hely’s joking offset his featherweight work ethic, there aren’t many who make better company.’)
So, basically he’s a funny guy. Black Inc. is delighted to welcome Steve to Australia in August for Melbourne Writers Festival. Here, Steve offers his essential, bare-bones tips for writers, comedy and otherwise.
1. Only writing is writing. Talking about writing isn't writing. Reading isn't writing. Thinking up ideas isn't writing. Only sitting down and writing words counts. There's a quote I've heard attributed to Kingsley Amis that summarizes this nicely: The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of one's trousers to the seat of one's chair.
2. Work every single day. Even if you can only spare a few minutes, spare them every single day. Don't miss one. A novel is a big thing to keep in your head, and you have to build up momentum on it. In reading writer interviews - and I've read a lot - it seems the most consistently productive writers all try and work every single day.
3. Don't worry too much about being perfect. It won't be anyway, so don't drive yourself nuts. A bad finished draft is better than a polished pile of scraps.
4. Don't take yourself too seriously.
5. Exercise. I'm pretty sure this helps you write. But even if it doesn't you may as well be in good shape, right?
Steve Hely will visit Brisbane on 30 August for an event at Avid Reader, and he will appear at Melbourne Writers Festival from 1-4 September. For more wisdom from the writers’ room, go here. And, it’s no secret Steve loves Australia and Australians – pop over to his blog to read his very astute list of the 20 Greatest Australian Artistic Achievements of All Time.