54 Tips For Writers, From Writers

This post, from Marelisa Fabrega, originally appeared on her Abundance Blog at Marelisa Online on 5/24/09.

The entire writing process is fraught with perils. Many writers would argue that the hardest part of writing is beginning. When asked what was the most frightening thing he had ever encountered, novelist Ernest Hemingway said, “A blank sheet of paper.”

tips for writersOther writers believe that ideas are easy, it’s in the execution of those ideas that the hard work really begins. You have to show up every day and slowly give shape to your ideas, trying to find just the right words, searching for the right turn of phrase, until it all morphs into something real.

Then comes the wait to discover how your writing will be received. Chilean author Isabel Allende once said that writing a book is like putting a message in a bottle and throwing it in the ocean. You never know if it will reach any shores.

So just how do you go about facing an empty page, coaxing your ideas into the world of form, and steering the end result toward shore? You can start by studying the tips and advice from writers presented below.

Creative Commons License photo credit: visualpanic

Stephen King – Read A Lot and Write A Lot

“If you want to be a writer,” says Stephen King, “you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

King, who has written over 50 books, emphasizes that writers have to be well-read. He adds that he has no patience for people who tell him that they want to be writers but they can’t find the time to read. The answer is simple: if you don’t read, you can’t be a writer. You have to read just about everything. In addition, you also have to write in order to develop your own style.

When it comes to the reading part of it, King explained during a lecture at Yale that if you read enough, there’s this magic moment which will always come to you if you want to be a writer. It’s the moment when you put down some book and say: “This really sucks . . . I can do better than this . . . And this guy got published.” So go ahead, read all you can, and wait for that magical moment. (Watch the YouTube video clip).

“On Writing”–published in 2000–is both a textbook for writers and a memoir of King’s life. Here’s an excerpt from “On Writing” in which King offers advice on pacing:

“Mostly when I think of pacing, I go back to Elmore Leonard, who explained it so perfectly by saying he just left out the boring parts. This suggests cutting to speed the pace, and that’s what most of us end up having to do (kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings)…I got a scribbled comment that changed the way I rewrote my fiction once and forever. Jotted below the machine-generated signature of the editor was this mot: “Not bad, but PUFFY. You need to revise for length. Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%. Good luck.”


Read the rest of the post, which includes advice from authors John Grisham, Erica Jong, Ernest Hemingway, Kurt Vonnegut, Anne Lamott, Annie Dillard, Maya Angelou and Seth Godin, on the Abundance Blog at Marelisa Online.

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