Elizabeth: Top 10 Writing Tips

FirstDraftsButtonEveryone, it seems, has advice about writing to share. I follow the Aerogramme Writers’ Studio blog which periodically posts top writing tips from well-known authors. I’ve compiled a list of the ones I’ve found most useful and thought I’d share them. So, in no particular order, here they are:

  • “Unplug your internet connection. There is nothing in the world you need to research or investigate at this moment, except what’s already bumping around in your head. Do yourself the favour of turning off the external, distracting stimulus for once.” ~ Cate Kennedy
  • “Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.” ~ Mark Twain
  • “Everybody has a perspective. Everybody in your scene, including the thug flanking your bad guy, has a reason. They have their own voice, their own identity, their own history. If anyone speaks in such a way that they’re just setting up the next person’s lines, then you don’t get dialogue: you get soundbites. Not everybody has to be funny; not everybody has to be cute; not everybody has to be delightful, and not everybody has to speak, but if you don’t know who everybody is and why they’re there, why they’re feeling what they’re feeling and why they’re doing what they’re doing, then you’re in trouble.” ~ Joss Whedon
  • WRITE! Does this sound strange? I’ve been amazed at the number of people who worry about selling their manuscript when they don’t have a manuscript to sell. The first step in getting your book published is to write the book! Editors won’t buy your “good idea.” They need to read the pages. ~ Susan Elizabeth Philips
  • “Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” ~ Neil Gaiman
  • “Leave out the parts readers tend to skip.” ~ Elmore Leonard
  • “When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.” ~ Pixar
  • “Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.” ~ Ray Bradbury
  • “Read, read, read. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.” ~ Stephen King
  • “Write what you like to read. If you are not captured by the story, who will be?” ~Nora Roberts

So, do you have a favorite writing tip to share?

10 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Top 10 Writing Tips

    • Disconnecting from the internet is my number one tip. It is amazing how “let me just quickly check one fact” can lead to the loss of an hour or more of writing time. If I spent as much time writing as I spend surfing, I’m pretty sure this book would have been finished long ago.

      • (-: Just a report, but I did it yesterday! Didn’t count the words, but I did move forward a little bit.

        Today, I’m feeling a little bit “poor me” — tough day at the dayjob. But maybe I can rest a little get some stuff going tonight.

        • Poor you, Michaeline! Can you vent a little by writing – maybe a battle scene or some hand-to-hand combat (Pow! Take That!)??

  1. These are great tips! One of my own favorites has always been “Butts in the chair,” which Nora Roberts says. Now that I’ve read these, though—I have to agree with you guys. Butts in the chair is good, but not surfing gets the work done.

  2. I especially love the Joss Whedon quote, Elizabeth. When I get stuck with a scene, usually I discover it’s because I don’t know why all the characters are feeling what they’re feeling, and doing what they’re doing.

  3. A written text has some similarities with a bread dough. There comes a time when it needs to rest, ferment and mature before you can process it. Or, before you can complete it – write the last chapters / the final scenes. It is also a good time to start writing a new text, so you are not constantly thinking about the first story while it rests.
    – and, please, excuse my bad english

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