Michael Crichton (1942–2008) is one of the bestselling authors of all time. His many famous works include Jurassic Park, Sphere, and The Lost World. He was also a celebrated film director as well.
Here are three quotes from Crichton that will make you a better writer!
1. Books aren’t written — they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it.
I’m not sure any aspiring writer gets started on a first novel thinking about the long road it’s going to take until that novel is ready for prime-time. When you’re just starting out, all you care about is finishing the book. And yes, that’s super important. Yes, you can’t ever get anywhere in your novel writing life if you don’t ever finish the first draft.
But Crichton is absolutely right when he says that all books essentially are rewritten. Because nobody’s ever gotten away with an amazing first draft. Because nobody gets it exactly right the first time. You have to revise your work, and revise it often. Sometimes it only takes a few more drafts to get it to the place it needs to be. Sometimes it takes ten drafts, or fifteen, or even twenty. The book I have on submission right now to editors has gone through nineteen drafts total between December of 2015 and April of 2019.
Sometimes it takes a little longer to get it right, months and months or even years and years, and you know what? That’s okay!
2. Exercise invigorates the body and sharpens the mind.
This is of course true no matter what kind of work you do, but what Crichton’s quote is especially true of writers. I don’t know about you, but I start to fade when I go hour after hour after hour writing without stopping, without taking a break, without taking a walk or a run outside at some point during the day!
Exercise invigorates your body, it sharpens your mind, and it gives you, often, a new jolt of inspiration when you sit back down to continue writing. My writing days right now are split into two parts. I spend three to four hours in the morning writing my latest novel. Then in the late afternoon and evening I work on my Medium stories. Between these two writing periods I spend an hour or longer exercising. I alternate between runs around my neighborhood and trips to my local gym. I need exercise to keep me going. It settles my mind, gets me away from a screen for a little bit, and ultimately makes me inspired to keep going later in the day.
If you write, I suggest at least thirty minutes of exercise a day. It can be a hard work-out, or it can just be a walk down the block and back. Just make sure you take the occasional break and work your body the same way you work your mind.
3. Working inspires inspiration. Keep working. If you succeed, keep working. If you fail, keep working. If you are interested, keep working. If you are bored, keep working.
It’s what I learned a long time ago that I think about to this day: inspiration is in the doing of writing, not in the before or after. It’s why I try not to sit and think before I start writing. It’s why as soon as I power up my laptop, I get started. The truth is that the inspiration comes when you’re working, never forget that.
And when it comes to writing, try as much as possible to be in love with the process. Keep working when you succeed and keep working when you fail. If your career is anything like mine, you will fail often! It’s okay. The writers that make it are the ones that stick with the craft for the long haul. The only way to fail at writing, ultimately, is to quit.
If you are interested in writing, and even if you are totally bored with writing, keep working anyway. If you work hard and work smart and learn from your mistakes and take chances, you will get there eventually, I guarantee it!