Saturday, February 14, 2009

10 Pieces of Advice for Aspiring Writers

Advice for Aspiring Writers

Laurie Halse Anderson: Read everything you can get your hands on. Be kind to your English teachers --- they know more than you realize (the good ones). Please don’t be one of those people who just talk about being a writer... BE a writer. Write something! And never give up --- never, never, never, never.

Martyn Bedford: My advice to aspiring writers is to write as much as you can as regularly as you can --- every day, ideally. Don’t wait for the mood or the muse to strike, just write. Write because you want to write rather than because you want to be a writer. Be original or don’t bother.

Elizabeth Berg: Trust yourself above anyone else. Writer for yourself first, then worry about what to do with it. Don’t try to imitate anyone else --- instead, cultivate your own unique voice. And if you’re really interested in learning what I know and I believe about writing, take a look at a book I wrote called Escaping Into The Open: The Art of Writing True. It’s available in paperback, and it’s for anyone who wants to write for any reason. It has everything I know and believe about the craft, and a bunch of exercises, too. (Also, a bunch of recipes, which are really good. A woman came to a reading the other night and told me how much she liked that book. Then she showed me the stains she got on the page when she made the recipe for chocolate cake. It was good, she said. And it is.)

Maeve Binchy: I would advise anyone to write as they speak, and on the subjects that they know about.

Ana Castillo: Write, write, write! Read, read, read! Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite! Share it with a few people you trust, who can give feedback you’ll respect. Send it out. Don’t be afraid of rejection. Everyone gets rejected and will be rejected throughout their lives at one time or another. Do it because you must, because you want to, need to, couldn’t live with yourself otherwise. If you do it for the fame and glory, you may fall hard on your face.

Carol Higgins Clark: Keep writing. Join a writer’s group or writing class. If you have something that you can send out, try to get an agent. Go to the library and look up in Literary Market Place the list of agents, and send out letters to agents. The most important thing is to keep writing.

Judy Blume: Don’t let anybody discourage you!

Christopher Bohjalian: Read lots and write often. And, truly, savor the process of writing. I had amassed over 250 rejections before I sold my first short story (to Cosmopolitan) when I was 24, so it’s important to enjoy those moments when you are, literally, crafting sentences.

Terry Brooks: Don’t quit the day job! I gave a talk at Maui this year on ten things every writer should know: Read. Read. Read. Outline. Outline. Outline. Write. Write.Write. Repeat. That’s it!

Christopher Buckley: Write. But seriously --- 1) get some reporting experience early on. There is no better training. 2) Read Orwell’s Politics and the English Language. 3) As my writing professor, the great William Zinsser, used to tell us, "Be grateful for every word you can cut."

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Rae Lori said...

Great words from a wonderful variety of talents! :-)

Anonymous said...

May I add another one from the great Phillip Pullman? When asked where he finds his ideas he usually replies

"...I don't know where they come from but I know where they come to. They come to my desk and if I'm not there they go away again. In other words, if you sit there for long enough, you'll think of something. If you sit there day in, day out, being prepared to put up with the long stretches when nothing in particular occurs to you, eventually something will."

Seems like there's no substitute for sitting down and getting on with it.

Elaine Saunders
Author - Fiction Writing Exercises Books For Writers Blog
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