Sensible Writing Tips From Cory Doctorow

Sensible Writing Tips From Cory Doctorow

In this post, we share some sensible writing tips from Cory Doctorow, the Canadian-British author.

Cory Doctorow (born 17 July 1971) is a Canadian-British blogger, journalist, and science fiction author. He is the author of the Little Brother series. His novels include Walkaway and In Real Life. Visit his website.

Cory Doctorow‘s latest book is Attack Surface, a standalone adult sequel to Little Brother. He is also the author of non-fiction about conspiracies and monopolies, science fiction for adults, a YA graphic novel, and young adult novels. His first picture book was Poesy The Monster Slayer.

He maintains a daily blog at

He works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is a MIT Media Lab Research Affiliate, is a Visiting Professor of Computer Science at Open University, a Visiting Professor of Practice at the University of North Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science, and he co-founded the UK Open Rights Group.

In 2020, he was inducted into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.

We found various bits of writing advice from the author online and wanted to share these writing tips from Cory Doctorow with you.

Sensible Writing Tips From Cory Doctorow

We found some of his tips from Advice To Writers. Read the full interview here.

  1. ‘Write every day. Habits are things you get for free, without requiring any special work. Set a daily word target. Make it small. 75 words a day is a novel a year.’
  2. ‘Finish in the middle of a sentence, so you can type three or four words the next day without having to be ‘creative’. Don’t get in the habit of only writing when there’s some ritual that’s been satisfied — the right music, a clean apartment, whatever.’
  3. ‘Especially don’t get in the habit of writing while smoking or boozing. Don’t hook the thing that makes you sane and whole to something that’s killing you.’
  4. ‘Write even when you feel like it’s sh*t. You can’t tell what’s good and what’s bad while you’re writing it.’
  5. ‘Don’t ever rewrite until the whole thing is done. Once you start thinking about what you’re writing, you lose the ability to stop writing it.’

And these are extrapolated on Locus Mag. Read the full article here.

1. Create A Regular Schedule

‘When I’m working on a story or novel, I set a modest daily goal — usually a page or two — and then I meet it every day, doing nothing else while I’m working on it. It’s not plausible or desirable to try to get the world to go away for hours at a time, but it’s entirely possible to make it all shut up for 20 minutes. … The secret is to do it every day, weekends included, to keep the momentum going, and to allow your thoughts to wander to your next day’s page between sessions. …’

2. Stop When You Reach A Word Count

‘When you hit your daily word-goal, stop. Stop even if you’re in the middle of a sentence. Especially if you’re in the middle of a sentence. That way, when you sit down at the keyboard the next day, your first five or ten words are already ordained, so that you get a little push before you begin your work.’

3. Don’t Research Instead Of Writing

‘Researching isn’t writing and vice-versa. When you come to a factual matter that you could google in a matter of seconds, don’t. Don’t give in and look up the length of the Brooklyn Bridge, the population of Rhode Island, or the distance to the Sun. That way lies distraction — an endless click-trance that will turn your 20 minutes of composing into a half-day’s idyll through the web.’

4. Don’t Wait For Inspiration

‘Don’t be ceremonious. Forget advice about finding the right atmosphere to coax your muse into the room. Forget candles, music, silence, a good chair, a cigarette, or putting the kids to sleep. … When the time is available, just put fingers to keyboard and write.’

5. Turn Off Realtime Communications Tools

‘The biggest impediment to concentration is your computer’s ecosystem of interruption technologies: IM, email alerts, RSS alerts, Skype rings, etc. Anything that requires you to wait for a response, even subconsciously, occupies your attention. Anything that leaps up on your screen to announce something new, occupies your attention.’

Source for image: Wired Portrait by Julia Galdo and Cody Cloud (JUCO) 6  Credit “Copyright Julia Galdo and Cody Cloud (JUCO),, Creative Commons Attribution”

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 17th July 2022