Author of the debut fantasy novel Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed, shares his advice for writers.
Q: What is your method for overcoming writer’s block?
A: People hate this answer, but: I don’t suffer from writer’s block. I have loads of ideas, snatches of dialogue, plot twists, bits of description, etc., floating about in my head. What I suffer from is worse than writer’s block: TWIN TODDLERS! So finding time and space to write are bigger issues for me than getting words onto the page once I have the time and space to do so. I guess the flip side of this is: If you find yourself sitting there, having carved out the time and space to write, BE GRATEFUL FOR IT! And use it to put something – anything – down on the page.
Q: What are your favorite or most helpful writing prompts?
A: Describe a familiar food from the point of view of someone who is completely unfamiliar with it.
More a trick than a prompt, for novels: Write the first three chapters. Then write the final chapter. Think of everything in between as a bridge (though one with inclines and declines).
Q: What is the most valuable advice you received as a young writer?
A: “Treat it like a job.” – (Pretty much every seasoned science fiction and fantasy writer I’ve ever met.) I used to write poetry, and poets are generally adverse to thinking of writing this way. Genre novelists aren’t, and (to speak in broad generalities) their refreshingly pragmatic ethos is one that continues to inspire me.
From Wikipedia: Saladin Ahmed (born 1975) is an Arab-American science fiction and fantasy writer and poet. He has been a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award and the Nebula Award for Best Short Story. His fiction has been published in book anthologies and magazines such as Strange Horizons, Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, Clockwork Phoenix 2, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. His novel trilogy The Crescent Moon Kingdoms is currently being published by DAW Books.