There are a great number of ways to write in this world, just as there are a great number of writers. Many of us have studied the craft, many of us have spent years — a lifetime — laboring over words and stories and honing our abilities to get words on the page. For some it comes easier, words flow out like molten lava, unstoppable in their heat! But they are perhaps a lucky few, because there is a great deal to know about writing.
Each of us have writing habits that we learn to understand and perfect over time. Each of us work differently, and have an individual routine that works best for us in terms of getting the writing done. Some work better at night, some at day. Some need regimented hours, some need to write a million words in order to whittle them down to one hundred good ones. Whatever works for you as a writer, there are also words from the wise that can help to propel you in the right direction. Words from writers that through time (and book sales) we have deemed a success. So here are 12 bits of learned advice from successful writers to help you consider the craft as you meander your own creative journey.
12 Writing Tips From Famous Authors
- “There is a great deal that either has to be given up or be taken away from you if you are going to succeed in writing a body of work.”- Susan Sontag
- “To write well about the elegant world you have to know it and experience it to the depths of your being … what matters is not whether you love it or hate it, but only to be quite clear about your position regarding it.” – Italo Calvino
- “As for discipline – it’s important, but sort of over-rated. The more important virtue for a writer, I believe, is self-forgiveness. Because your writing will always disappoint you. Your laziness will always disappoint you. You will make vows: “I’m going to write for an hour every day,” and then you won’t do it. You will think: “I suck, I’m such a failure. I’m washed-up.” Continuing to write after that heartache of disappointment doesn’t take only discipline, but also self-forgiveness. The other thing to realize is that all writers think they suck.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
- “Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.”- Isabel Allende
- “Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterward.” – Henry Miller
- “Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet.” – Zadie Smith
- “You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
- “The most damning revelation you can make about yourself is that you do not know what is interesting and what is not. Don’t you yourself like or dislike writers mainly for what they choose to show or make you think about? Did you ever admire an empty-headed writer for his or her mastery of the language? No.” – Kurt Vonnegut
- “Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.” – Margaret Atwood
- “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means.” – Joan Didion
- “Pay no attention to the criticism of men who have never themselves written a notable work.” – Ezra Pound
- “When people talk listen completely. Don’t be thinking what you’re going to say. Most people never listen. Nor do they observe. You should be able to go into a room and when you come out know everything that you saw there and not only that. If that room gave you any feeling you should know exactly what it was that gave you that feeling. Try that for practice.” – Ernest Hemingway
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