Author Stacey Longo Talks Writing and the Habits of a Writer

by Jason Harris

Author Stacey Longo spoke to an attentive audience at the Douglas Library in Hebron, CT on Wednesday night about being a successful writer. Longo knows what she is talking about since she has sold over 20 stories and has been in over a dozen anthologies. She also has published a children’s book, Pookie and the Lost and Found Friend, and a collection of 12 tales, Secret Things,which was released in October. Along with writing, she is also an editor with a number of successful edited books including Wicked Seasons: The Journal of New England Horror Writers, Volume II.2013-12-11 08.41.01

Before she began her horror writing career in 2010, she was selling articles to newspapers and magazine such as The Island Crier and The Works. She was also a humor columnist for the Block Island Times. She has also just been hired to review B horror movies for the Cinema Knife Fight website.

The habits of a successful writer include writing a lot, Longo said. A writer should be setting realistic deadlines and goals. If these deadlines and goals are not realistic, you will just be defeating yourself and setting yourself up to fail. Stephen King writes 10 pages a day. Ernest Hemingway wrote 500 words a day.

“Thomas Harris took 10 years to write the sequel to Silence of the Lambs. Robert James Waller wrote The Bridges of Madison County in 6 weeks. Both were NY Times bestsellers.”

One shouldn’t use Harris as an excuse not to write every day or at least a few days a week, she said.

Stacey Longo talking to a crowd interested in writing.

Stacey Longo talking to a crowd interested in writing.

A writer should even read more than they are writing. Reading is always good, but it should be well-written book,s not poorly-written books such as the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, she said. There are two books every writer should read. They are The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White and On Writing by King. A writer needs to know the rules of writing before choosing to break those rules.

If you want to write, you should seek out workshops, conventions, and writers’ groups so as to meet other writers. Longo states that writing is a lonely profession and meeting fellow writers is always a good thing. Other writers can help you or you may be able help them with editing, a potential market, or even with a story problem. “The best way to learn about the craft of writing is to talk to others who have been successful at it.”

Longo met Ken Wood, publisher of Shock Totem, in 2009 at the Northeastern Writer’s Conference (NECON). In 2011, he asked her to write-up an anecdote she had told him about her father so it could be printed in the magazine’s holiday issue.

When it comes to editing, it’s very important to Longo. Everyone needs to learn the basics of sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and verb tenses. If you can do these things in your story, you won’t do it in a query letter, which will lead to no agents or publishers reading your story. This is where your fellow writers or your writer’s group comes in handy. Let them read your first draft and listen to their suggestions. Your first draft isn’t going to be publishable.

“No book on the shelves today is still in the original draft form that the writer first wrote. Everything needs editing,” Longo said.2013-12-11 08.39.49

Another important fact for a writer to learn is the need to be prepared for rejection because the publishing world is all subjective, Longo said. One publisher may reject a story while the another one will accept it.

For more information about Stacey Longo, click here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s