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Archive for Monday, March 2, 2009

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Four ways to find your muse

March 2, 2009

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Jill Elaine Hughes has built a multifaceted writing career in genres ranging from theater to erotic fiction. (Her new book, “Market for Love,” came out recently on Virgin Books under the pen name Jamaica Layne.) We asked Hughes, 34, to help readers turn their writing passions into reams of pages.

• Make writing a habit. “Philip Roth has a great saying, that amateurs wait for inspiration, while great writers just get up and go to work. You literally have to sit down and write every day, even if it’s not your job, and just force yourself to put the words down. Even if you’re intimidated, the best thing to do is sit down and write.”

• Make reading a habit. “Make reading an important part of your day, especially work similar to what you want to publish. I hear from people who want to work in popular fiction, but only read the classics. You have to learn from people who’ve mastered the craft.”

• Keep a journal. “Journaling helps focus your thinking and harness the chaos in your brain — to help get your thoughts into comprehensible English. And you don’t have to show it to anybody.”

• Join or form a writing group of supportive people. “Writing groups have their place and can be very helpful — but they can also be very toxic. I’m part of a group of mostly accomplished writers, but we’ll allow people of all levels to join, even a novice. It’s online and called Backspace, www.bksp.org, and it’s very, very supportive; it runs discussion groups and has a conference in New York City every year.”

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