We caught up with three National Book Awards finalists at the ceremony in New York this evening and they shared their writing advice with us.
Gene Luen Yang, the young people’s literature nominee for his book Boxers & Saints, shared his three tips for writing with us. “Read, write constantly, and give up TV,” he said. Yang said that he dedicates a full 8-10 hours a day every other day to writing. Back when he still had a full time job, he got up early and wrote before work. “You don’t have time to watch TV if you want to really succeed with writing,” said Yang.
Wendy Lower, the nonfiction nominee for her book Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Field, gave advice to other historians working on books. “Go to the archives, there’s a lot of story to be told in the documents,” she said. “Then try to connect the archives with living witnesses. Do field work. Connect to the place with photos and videos.”
Tom McNeal, the young people’s literature nominee for his book Far Far Away, shared his advice. “Read widely, read deeply,” he said. “And do tons of revising. When you are writing, you get it all in there, but when you go back and revise you have to be a different person. You have to do so with a steely gaze. Figure out how badly the reader needs to see that word, that sentence, that scene.”