A Must-Read for Writers
(See below for how to win a copy.)
A decade ago, I read Betsy Lerner’s book The Forest for the Trees and it quickly rose to the top of my “best books ever” list. I read it a few times over the years, then lent it out so many times I lost track of my copy. Today I’m excited because I just ordered my brand-spankin’-new copy of the Revised and Updated 10th Anniversary Edition.
I think every single writer seeking publication should read this book! Here’s the review on Amazon:
One feels for Betsy Lerner’s writers. Oh, sure, Lerner must be a fabulous agent. But too bad for them: In gaining her as an agent, they lost her as an editor. How rare and wonderful it must have been to have such an advocate, advisor, and, yes, admirer so firmly ensconced in publisher territory (at various times, Houghton Mifflin, Ballantine, Simon & Schuster, and Doubleday). In The Forest for the Trees, Lerner reflects on writing and publishing from an editor’s point of view.
There are so many books by writers and agents promising to disclose what editors really want; here, finally, is one straight from the source. Like all experienced editors, Lerner has seen writers at their best, and at their worst. “Like shrinks,” she says, editors “have a privileged and exclusive view into a writer’s psyche, from the ecstasy of acquisition to the agony of the remainder table.”
Click HERE to order the book.
Want a chance to win The Forest for the Trees FREE?
Betsy has graciously offered to provide 5 books for me to give to my blog readers, so I’m going to have a random drawing from the comments to this post. If you want a chance to win one, leave a comment with the single best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received.
Leave your comment by 11:59 PM EDT this Saturday. I’ll use a random number generator to choose five winners on Sunday. One entry per person, please.
(c) 2010 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent
Need to present this book to my girl friend who aspires to be a great writer which she will be one day.
Getting it through this source will be my fate
>Best advice: Read your draft aloud.
>Create characters people care about
>The piece of advice that comes back to me over and over is, "Just write." It's pretty darn hard to edit a blank piece of paper, or empty Word doc. So write. Write every day. Hone your craft. Revise. Make sure every word is sterling and shines, and that there's a reason for your readers to feel strongly about your characters.
But above all, just write.
>I think I have received more good advice here than ever before!!…but my best advice (from my husband)…get to the point and use less words…first edit always takes out the repetitive, superfluous, and overly garrulous.
>Best Advice: In MSWord, highlight all "to be" words and replace them where you can.
>"You are not a writer unless you write." so BICFOK basically.
mjagears AT gmail DOT com
>I would love to win this book! Thank you for this giveaway!
The best piece of advice I've ever heard is this: Finding your voice is like finding the perfect bra. Once you try it on for size, you never want to take it off.
>Show, don't tell.
>The best piece of writing advice I've received? Silence your internal editor during the first draft. By tying up my I.E. and stuffing a sock in her mouth, I freed up my creativity. I realized she slowed down the process of getting my manuscripts finished, always commenting and correcting. It felt good to get a little revenge but I think I.E. is going to be hot with me when I let her loose again. Her payback? A long revision process
>OOps, sorry. This is my ONE entry. I had to delete the comment above because I made a mistake.
The single best piece of writing advice I ever received was to proofread.
>Read at least 100 picture books before you try to write one. Also, simply stated: Butt in Chair.
>The best writing advice I've ever received was to keep writing and not give up.
>The best piece of advice I received was to take out the unnecessary words that I continually use (like 'that'). I was told to read the sentence and remove the word-if the sentence still made sense it was safe to remove.
>The best advice I've ever given, which I now give freely to my own clients:
"Write the book you want to read, the one that hasn't been written yet."
>A professor pointed out my habit of writing how people began to (some verb) or started to (some verb). She told me to cut all of the began/started to's out and let the power of the verbs "activate" my writing.
>Trouble with just sitting at the computer for hours is: You'll eventually ruin your back, eyesight and general health. Get up & MOVE every 30 minutes or you'll look & feel like a couch potato…Just saying!
>The single best piece of writing advice I've ever received came in Holly Kennedy's blog in Nov 2008: get some bum glue. "So sit down. Write. And do not move from your chair unless your house is burning down. Even if you write garbage for two hours, that's okay. You can always rewrite it, but at least you're moving your project forward. Here's the other side of the coin: if you allow distraction or procrastination or your penchant for obsessing over that unattainable concept of perfection stop you from writing, you may never get published at all. And wouldn't that be a bummer?! Bum glue. Don't have any? Get some!"
>Straight from the mouth of Nate B. himself: "If novelists wrote only when they were inspired it would take a hundred years to string together a novel. If you're really going to finish one, you're not only going to have to spend quite a lot of time writing and revising when you don't feel like it, you're going to have to spend quite a lot of time writing when you would rather be lighting your toes on fire.
The great Jane Yolen has a name for this: BIC. Butt. In. Chair. That is the writing process. Butt in chair."
Excerpted from his April 13, 2010 post. It hangs above my writing space and inspires me every day.
>I stumbled across this quote one day:
"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." — Jack London
So far it's been the best writing advice I've ever found. Now I write every day, even if I'm not feeling 'inspired'. It's amazing how much you can achieve with the right mindset!
Plus, if I don't get it right the first (or fifth) time I revise the heck out of it 🙂
Thanks for a great post!
>The Guardian had a great article on the 10 Rules for writing Fiction which I found through Billy Coffee's Tweet. "Ain't technology grand?"
So here are some special favorites…
Elmore Leonard: My most important rule is one that sums up the 10: if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.
Margaret Atwood: 5 Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.
Roddy Doyle …My personal favorite…
1 Do not place a photograph of your favourite author on your desk, especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide
2 Listen to what you have written. A dud rhythm in a passage of dialogue may show that you don't yet understand the characters well enough to write in their voices.
3 Only bad writers think that their work is really good.
4 Description is hard. Remember that all description is an opinion about the world. Find a place to stand.
1 The reader is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator.
2 Fiction that isn't an author's personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn't worth writing for anything but money.
4 Write in the third person unless a really distinctive first-person voice offers itself irresistibly.
9 Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting.
5 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.
1 Increase your word power. Words are the raw material of our craft. The greater your vocabulary the more effective your writing. We who write in English are fortunate to have the richest and most versatile language in the world. Respect it.
>The best advice I ever got was "Write the @#$% book", spoken by Tom Clancy. He spent time every day writing and took a cut in his pay as an insurance agent. His first book, Hunt for Red October" sold for $1,000,000. I guess it was worth his investment in time. I have also heard the job you have today, pays for you to be able to write in the future.
>"Since you are your own biggest critique, you need to become your bigest supporter as well."
"By Perseverance the snail reached the ark."
>While I have received tons of great advice, the best advice still is to read all the resources I can get my hand's on.
>The best piece of advice came from my husband. "Everything takes practice to do it right. It takes practice to do it better. I'd bet you money, it takes practice to get published. Now, go practice."
Thanks for this opportunity. Best writing advice:
Just do it!
Explanation: "Write" is a verb!
>The best advice I ever received was to keep moving forward. Don't stop if you get stumped by a research question, don't stop to edit! Just move forward! Revise, reword and research later.
>One more! I heard that Hemingway (I think) said to stop writing in the middle of an exciting scene so you can get your juices flowing the next day…I'm sure he said it much better than that, but you get the idea. i.e. Stop while you're hot–before you get burnt out or worn out.
>How to succeed in anything—is to practice your craft. Over and over and over again.
>Ignore all advice and write.
>Best advice: Your story could benefit from a little less Latin.
>The best piece of writing advice I ever got? When the same poetry teacher who had once said, in front of the entire class, "Well, but Mari, all Your poems are good," put a single red line through the middle of one entire poem I turned into workshop, with a three word note: not much here.
That sharp critique showed me how to look for the difference between flowering images and just flowery words. I learnt from that critique that every word has to mean something; or why use it?
>I remember one time feeling incredibly discouraged in my writing. I’d just read a novel that was everything I wanted my novels to be. The plot moved me, the characters became incredibly real, and the message was powerful. Every time I sat down to write my own fiction I would think about this other author. There was no way I was ever gonna write like that!
I asked for advice from author James Scott Bell. He’s been a writing mentor to me, and what he said hit home. He told me first of all I wasn’t alone in feeling the way I was feeling. All serious writers and artists have been there before, he said. Then he encouraged me with this bottom line: I needed to realize that no two writers are the same. I had MY story that no one could ever write like me.
Then he said something else I’ve never forgotten. He compared writing to what God does with spiritual gifts. Not everyone has the same gift, but when we develop our own gifts it contributes to the whole tapestry. I needed to be the best CJ I could be. And if I gave my full attention to my own writing, not comparing myself to anyone but just digging deeper into my story, the concerns would go away. Jim said, “Writing itself is always the best antidote to the writing blues.”
>Write from your moral center — this advice from Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird changed the way I write. You must write about what you care deeply about. "If you don't believe in what you are saying, there is no point in your saying it. You might as well call it a day and go bowling."
>Whatever you do, do it beautifully. This advice was given by my acting coach in Toronto and I hold myself to it while writing too.
>In a workshop I took, Susan Elizabeth Philips gave us the freedom to make mistakes. That makes first drafts much easier!
>The best advice ever?
'Write first, edit later.' It's so true, but so difficult to do! But, oh, the joy of allowing oneself to simply BE….be creative, be impulsive, get those words down, and worry about the quality once you're done.
>Best advice: Give yourself permission to write crummy first drafts.
>Best writing advice: When you sit down to write, do NOT check your email first. If you do, almost certainly something in your inbox will steal a chunk of your writing time.
>Best advice, from Alan Rinzler et al:
"Buy books and read them–all of them." And, of course, write, write, write. Know that: "There are no good writers, only good rewriters."
Also, I discovered on my own, when you love certain writers' works, copy-type them sometimes, so you can physically feel their rhythms, etc. Practice, practice, practice–then write from the heart and soul, and rewrite with the perseverance of a long distance runner.
>Best Piece of writing advice ever: be as transparent as you can; write with innocence, and as openly as possible.
>Best advice: Have patience and perseverence. I couldn't credit anyone because it's come from too many great writers and agents.
I heed the advice now. I'm giving myself time to polish my WIP, my query, my synopsis. I'm taking time to research agents and the publishing industry. I'm reading in and out of my genre. And most of all, I'm sticking with it because that's the only way to get it done. Can't get there if you knock off too soon.
>My father was a writer when he was younger. His advice to me was you can do anything you put your mind too Judy. If you want to be a ditch digger you will be the best ditch digger there is. The same goes for anything you want to do in life. I miss him, he was my best cheer leader and if he was hear now he'd be telling me I could be the best writer there is if I just put my mind to it.
>The best advice I've ever heard as a writer: write what you would love to read.
Your passion will come out in your writing if you do that.
>The most helpful piece of advice I received was to understand that writing is rewriting. That struck a chord in me because "re" seems to be the way of life for me. I'm constantly rethinking, renewing, restoring, refreshing, and now, rewriting.
>The best writing advice I ever got was to read widely. It works.
>My most helpful piece of advice: butt in chair! I read this once and it's always remained true. It is a reminder that writing is work, and you have be committed.
>betty a. says–
This story must be told–and, this story will never be published by a Christian publishing company though it epitomizes Christian living.
>Well, since you're using a random number generator and not choosing comments based on the quality or effectiveness of the advice, I'm going to go with Hemingway's "Write drunk, edit sober" maxim.
Now I shall sit back and see if the randomizer has any sense of irony.
>write, whether you feel like it or not.
>I put all of my favorite quotes on my wall by my desk, some of them are as follows:
"I decided that I would continue to write as long as I lived, even if I never sold one thing, becuase that was what I wanted out of my life." (George Bernau)
"By perseverance the snail reached the ark." (Charles Spurgeon)
"Since you are your own biggest critique, you need to become your biggest supporter as wll." (Jan Fields)
>Best advice I've ever heard is the same as many others, "If you want to be a writer, write." And my favorite that applies to all things in life, "If you can dream it…DO IT!"
>NO BACKSTORY! (if I tell myself none, then only a tiny bit trickles in)
>Please pardon the profanity, but this is the BEST writing advice I ever received: "Allow yourself to write shitty first drafts."
>Probably the best advice I ever got was also the simplest: Keep on writing.
If you stop writing, you'll never succeed.
>Best advice: Part of God's call on my life includes writing.
>My best advice ever: "Stop saying you want to be a writer if you're not going to write every chance you get."
>Best writing advice: Write when your energy level and creativity is optimal (This may require some baseline data). But for me that is 4:30 in the morning. I hear that women are most creative right before and during their menstrual cycle? Who knows if this is true :)…some may beg to differ.
>I don't swear so I'll have to paraphrase: Your first draft is garbage. That is the best advice I have ever gotten as a writer. Knowing that truth, I don't stress so much over my first draft- I just get it written down and go from there. I don't expect so much from that first draft so I don't hesitate to write it. Then I take a look at what I've gotten down and go from there; editing, revising, crossing off (I handwrite all my first drafts) and enjoy playing with the words, phrases, and paragraphs. I love juggling with words.
>This has been said already, but it truly is the best advice I've been given. One of my English profs said, "Even if you don't feel like it… no matter what… write every day.
>Bird by bird.
>The best advice came from my favorite college professor. She said, "your book is like one of your children… at some point you have to send them out into the world. If you've done your job well, they will fly".
So, do your job well and don't be afraid to put it out there!
>The best advice:
1. Close the door.
2. Sit down and write.
3. Tell the truth to your reader.
>Give yourself permission to write a "junk" first draft but get the story told, Then, never, ever, show that first draft to anyone.
>No matter what, write. NO MATTER WHAT, write.
>"Write as if your parents are dead."
Sounds a bit gruesome, but this philosophy frees one to write truth. And truth is what will resonate with your reader. Your dialogue must sound true, your characters must feel true, your situations could be true and therefore relatable for your reader. So, no holds barred; share the good, the bad, and the ugly; be true to your craft. Don't worry what Aunt Sally will say when she reads this. Just write truth.
>The best advice was from Elizabeth George's book on writing, One Novelist's Approach to Fiction and the Writing Life—
"You will be published if you possess 3 qualities—talent, passion and discipline. You will probably be published if you possess 2 of the 3 qualities in any combination-either talent or discipline or passion and discipline. You will likely be published if you possess neither talent nor passion but still have discipline. But if all you possess is talent or passion, if all you possess is talent and passion, you will not be published."
Discipline/perseverance, as in faith, is everything.
>Kurt Vonnegut — everything you write should be written with just one person in mind. Stephen King said something similar. If you write with one person in mind, your writing becomes specific and intimate. If you write for "the masses" it starts to take on a generic tone.
>To stop fighting against how my "black hole" brain works and just write how I write–we can only be who we are and who I am and how my brain works is doing just fine. It is my truth.
>Best advice I've heard lately is from Billy Coffey (from blog post: Why you're a real writer, 9/28/10):
There is no “someday”. You are a real writer the moment you put pen to page and soak it with your tears and sweat and dare to share yourself with the world.
>I think the best advice any writer could get is to read, A LOT, in the genre in which they are writing. Specically new books coming out so you know what publishers are looking for.
>Just start writing. Period. Skill follows effort.
>Don't spend so much time figuring out what other people want to read, write about what captivates you and trust there are other people like you out there.
>The best advice I've received is to keep searching and writing until I find my own voice. Thanks for the chance! 🙂
>The advice that's been going through my mind all week is from James Scott Bell. He says something like this. Readers want to worry, so give your Lead an objective, then give your readers something to worry about in every single scene. In other words put obstacles in your lead's way and make your readers fret about your lead the entire novel.
>give the gift that only you can give.
>Best piece of advice I ever got came from somebody on the NaNo forums. It didn't really strike me until later, so I'll never know who it was. They said this: You cannot edit a blank page. It turned out to be the perfect way to silence my inner critic, and get writing. So true! It might not be perfect first time, and sometimes it's not even good, but I can't edit a blank page!
>Write every day.
When I wasn't, months and even years would pass before I typed or penned another word.
Once I started writing every day, I began reaching goals, improving my outlook, and improving my writing!
>Thanks for the opportunity to win this awesome book!
The best advice I've received:
BICHOK – WRITE@ Translation: Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard – WRITE!!
>Write every day.
>Thanks for this offer, Rachelle. Great book!
I've received lots of writing advice, but two pieces stand out for me. The first was to write anyway. Tired? Uninspired? Full of doubts, indecision, insecurity? Write anyway.
The second piece of advice was to write like someone would read it. Give it my absolute best and don't send shoddy work to an agent or editor. 🙂
>Some of the really good advice I'd been given has already been mentioned, but I have a saying that I attached to my desk to remind me that this business is all about working a little at a time, day after day.
"Success consists of a series of little daily efforts."
>I sure can't nail one best piece, but one memorable one that has stuck with me comes to mind: it comes from a BLOG POST featuring Vince Mooney on Prairie Chicks Write Romance. He said Rewarding Readers is Very Important in Romances and went on to explain what kinds of things generate 'reader reward'. I've not mastered this, but the idea really resonated with me and I find myself counting how many times other authors do this in their books, and whether or not it worked. Intriguing concept.
>I will not talk in class.
I will not talk in class.
I will not talk in class.
I will not talk in class.
Wait. Did I get the assignment wrong?
>Great contest, Rachelle!
>LOL – I was going to comment to enter, then I saw you had 366 comments. I think I'll just jump over to Amazon and buy a copy. 🙂 Thanks for the heads-up, Rachelle!
>Writer's block suggests you are stuck (or constipated) when the truth is you are empty – Anne Lamont in Bird by Bird.
>I guess the best advice I got was from Doc Hensley who got into my face on a break from writing class and said, "I hate you."
He was trying to convey to me in his inimitable way what I had done to him as a reader and how terribly personal words become to the reader.
Think of your reader when you write.
Kind of scary when you think of it.
If I don't win, I'll definitely buy the book! 🙂 Thanks, Rachelle.
>Billy Crystal's character, Larry, in THROW MOMMA FROM THE TRAIN, told his creative writing class, "Writers write." Made sense to me then, makes sense to me now.
>Best piece of writing advice I ever received: Never forget, in a novel, every scene is a unit of conflict.
>Pinch it off.
>"To be a writer, just write."
>Rachelle, I just ordered the book. Sounds like a good read for editors as well. ;o)
>Sounds like a great book. I think the best advice I've gotten is to keep growing. To keep challenging myself. There's never a point where we've learned it all and we can always be reaching for that next level and pushing ourselves to be even better.
>Get up and write every day. In the same spot.
You don't have to go looking for Inspiration. You just have to make sure it knows where You're gonna be.
>From the senior editor at a newspaper I worked for: Whatever you write should be exactly long enough to tell the story, no more, no less.
>In college, I had a summer internship with a small newspaper and the wise old editor told me:
"Show, don't tell." Works both in journalism and fiction.
>Join a critique group.
>Before you do anything in the morning, write for 15 mins to get you head in the right space.
>I think the most useful writing advice I ever found was that there is a place for telling in a story, as well as for showing–and that it has to do with pace and focus. When you show, the camera slows down and zooms in. When you tell, it's that broad, fast-moving shot.
>The most useful advice: write what you know; don't write what you don't know.
>Best advice: Use simple sentences in active voice. Leave things to the imagination.
>The best advice I've gotten is to spend time with your story and your characters every single day, even if it's just while you're in the shower. Keep tending to it.
>The best advice I've ever been given is to quit writing if you can. If you can't quit, then don't let anything stop you.
>"Write everday, even if it's just one word." Natalie Goldberg
>The best writing advice, I have received so far, is to decide who you're writing for and stay committed to that group.
>The very best advice I ever had was when Jason Black from Plot to Punctuation actually took the time to show me how to 'show' rather than 'tell'. I think I learned a lot from the dozen or more emails we exchanged. I hope I learned enough.
>On the craft: Write first, then go back and look to cut out unnecessary words (Walter Mosley).
On writing what you know: Willa Cather said (I'm paraphrasing): Stop admiring and start remembering.
>From my wife, Helen (who is not a writer, by the way): Write, because no one can write like you.
>The best advice I ever received was a three letter mantra; A I C, for Ass In Chair. Nothing will happen unless you put your A I C and get to work.
>Best advice: to write bravely. I've heard this many places, but probably where it came to make the most sense to me was in a Voice class I took from Barbara Samuel O'Neal.
>Go to a writer's conference.
Best advice: ditch your internal editor for the entire first draft. Then let her hack it to bits for the second and third. 🙂
>I know it's been said already, but I'll say it again with an added qualifier:
Write first, edit later. And put your fingers in your ears and shout "LALALALALA" every time someone tries to talk you out of doing either.
>Best advice ever: You're not alone – Don't Give Up.
>Advice #1 : write every day, no matter what.
Advice #2: every word you write in your blog is a word not being written in your book.
(that keeps me focused on the book and not the siren song of my blog!)
>Writers write. Simple at that. Don't talk about it, just do it.
>Write what you love.
Thanks for the chance to win! Looks like a wonderful book. 🙂
may at maythek9spy dot com
>The best writing advice I've ever received is to write — and rewrite — and then to keep on writing some more.
>Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. – CS Lewis
>Best Advice was from a lecture by Ray Bradbury: Write every Day. He Said" You can't do ANYTHING every day and not get better at it. The only way to get better at anything is to practice regularly."
>Anthony Burgess's "Martini Method": 1,000 words every day, and then a reward. It made writing an enjoyable habit, and chips away at impossibly long projects.
>The best advice I received was to get a journal and write every day. Oh, and to not be ashamed to eavesdrop!
>Great book – one of the best five I've read on both being a writer and the business. And now revised? Cool.
Best advice I ever read: write as if you're writing a letter to a friend.
>The best advice…that's tricky. Probably not to force yourself to adhere to rules or advice of others (such as write for one hour a day/only write 500 words a day/etc.); instead, find what works for you and go with it.
>Best advice was: sit down and write at least 1500 words a day even if you have to type with your nose on the keyboard – just find a way to write!
>Resist the Urge to Explain: I wasn't giving my readers enough credit and I gave things away, BUT more importantly I explained things they already knew and it made them feel like I was talking down to them.
>The first, and best, piece of writing advice I ever got was in the fifth grade. I sent a short story to my favorite middle grade author at the time, Peg Kehret, and she responded with the following advice: "The secret to writing good fiction is to put in specific details that show the action happening, rather than simply telling what happened. Usually I go back after I have a first draft of a story, and take short paragraphs and develop them into full scenes by adding more details and more action." It's basically the whole, "Show, don't tell," thing, but being a fifth grader who had never heard it before, it really affected my writing. I still keep her letter tucked away and read it every once in a while for inspiration.
>There are so many good pieces of advice from which to choose, but the one that keeps me disciplined on the days when I really need it is simple: Butt in Chair.
>Advice from Ray Bradbury:
"You must write every single day of your life… You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads… may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world."
>best writing advice…write from your heart…don't censor..
>The best advice I ever got was "Read everything you can, even what you may not like. Write everything down, even what may not seem especially great or relevant. Keep going, no matter what. Make writing a habit. Don't worry about age, education, or the how of it. Just write.
>The best advice I've ever heard was that when it comes to writing is that you HAVE to let yourself suck. No first draft is ever perfect. Let whatever comes out spill onto the page (or keyboard)and when you're done, then you can revise. You can always fix mistakes later-but you can't fix anything if you haven't written it first.
>"Kill your darlings." William Faulkner
meaning get rid of the elements that you love so much yourself, but that don't really add anything to the whole or possibly even weaken it.
Thanks for the opportunity to win the book. Looks awesome.
>"Kill your darlings." William Faulkner
meaning get rid of the elements that you love so much yourself, but that don't really add anything to the whole or possibly even weaken it.
Thanks for the opportunity to win the book. Looks awesome.
>P.S. I LOVE seeing all these posts! What a GREAT group of people!!!
Alice Clearman Fusco – Writing Alice
>The book sounds awesome. Thanks for the recommend, us little ole aspiring authors need all the help we can get. 😀
>Best piece of advice: In late, out early.
Thanks for the giveaway!
>Oh wow! I've not heard of that book, but it certainly sounds fascinating!
The best advice I ever got was to keep going, no matter what, and keep learning and expanding my knowledge base and experiences. Anything and everything can inspire you to do something fantastic, but if you don't know how to translate that into something others will understand, it's kind of useless.
>Breathe in, breathe out.
>Best advice: Don't give up. Keep pushing yourself to improve.
>Best advice I ever got was this: Nobody cares about The Village of the Happy Nice People.
(See also: Don't Be Boring)
>I've been wanting to get this book. I've heard many good things about it.
Best writing advice: Loosen up. Don't be afraid to make some mistakes and let your characters show their character.
>A college prof told me, "You can only write as well as you have read and as well as you have written. So read the good stuff and write all the time."
>know the rules then break em
>Best writing advice I've ever gotten: Write what you're passionate about, and your readers will feel that passion too.
>I would love to win this book.
The most helpful writing advice I've received is "sign up for a Margie Lawson class."
Joy G Lee G@ aol. com
>My best advice was "don't be afraid to suck." It's so easy to not write when you think what you're writing is garbage. As soon as you give yourself permission to be less than perfect, it's much easier to just write.
>The best piece of writing advice I've ever received is "Walk away."
Take time away from what you've written, so you can look at it again with fresh eyes.
It's amazing what you see when you aren't immersed in the story.
>299 comments…me makes 300. Oh boy.
The best writing advice I had ever received? Keep writing, keep reading, and persevere. Learn about the market.
>OH! This is an easy one! As with ALL excellent advice, the best writing advice I ever got was the most painful. It still hurts! Here it is:
"The most important writing tool is the eraser."
>Writing is like parenting, what works for someone else might not work for you… follow your own routine/rules. But most of all – DO IT!
Would love a copy of this book!!
>Best advice I ever heard: put your butt in the chair and your fingers on the keyboard.
>Single best piece of advice? Shut up and write. So many writers love to talk about writing, but don't write.
Second best? What would your character never do? Now figure out a way to make them do it. ~Don Maass
>The best advice? Publishing is a business; don't take it personally.
>Best advice was to follow goal, motivation, and conflict. Make sure every scene enhances at least one of the above for your characters.
>The best advice I've gotten so far is that you have to write what you enjoy–some will like it and some won't, that's why most everyone has a favorite genre.
>The best writing advice I've ever heard is to quit thinking about it and sit your boo-tay in the chair to do it! I've heard that several times so I don't know who to credit.
>My mum brought me up with the phrase: "If it's for you, it won't go by you."
When everything's going wrong, it sticks with me. If I miss an opportunity, then it wasn't meant to be. The chance will come.
>Great advice that always helps me to keep writing: Write what's on your heart. If you don't write it, you'll never know how it could have helped someone. So write it even if only one person will read it.
It's interesting to read others' comments on this one, too. Awesome advice out there!
>Best advice ever was a Nora Roberts quote.
"You can't edit a blank page."
It always reminds me of my favorite Bobby Cox baseball quote, "You can't defend against a walk."
>Write a lot, read a lot, keep a very honest private journal.
>Best advice: Write daily and never give up if this is really what I want to do. I can make it happen with patience.
>"Write at least 15 min. a day." Because if I'm really not in the mood and I get started, after 15 minutes I can't stop!
>Something I learned from NYT Bestselling author Nancy Pickard (who runs the Sisters in Crime group in my area) is to use all 5 senses, if at all possible, in every scene. I truly think this is the best advice for a fiction writer I've ever gotten.
>Hello, I'm new in here. But know some of these regulars.
Best advise ever, my writing coach told me "know your characters as well as you know yourself."
>Trust the process.
>From Natalie Goldman's book, Old Friend from Far Away:
Because there is so much dread about what someone else thinks, I want to repeat this:
You have a right to write it.
Throw it out, rip it up, swallow it down.
Build up a capacity to bear up – don't let fear ruin your writing life.
Hide your notebook in a good place.
I LOVE this advice – especially the last part!
>Never, never, never quit. Quitters never win.
>Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the offer, Rachelle, and thanks to everyone for posting the advice above.
Some of the best advice I've received is to keep a "voice journal" for a character and to read my work aloud.
>I'm going to go for Hemingway's, 'The first draft of anything is ****,' as the best piece of advice I have been given.
>Keep your seat in the seat and finish the book. Anybody can start one.
>The best advice ever given to me was write every day, schedule it, and don't apologize when someone wants you to skip it and you say no.
>The best advice I received was to read only well-written fiction because we pick up so much from what we read. Once I began putting aside books in which I caught technical flaws, my writing improved drastically.
>The best advice I have been given was, "Write now. Edit later." I used to get hung up on making that first draft perfect and never completed anything. Now I know better.
>The best advice I ever got was also the first–when I was seventeen.
"You might have to write 10,000 words before you write a good one," he said, "and you might have to write another 10,000 words before you write a second good one. The only way to get good at writing is to write millions of words."
>Best advice: Put your butt in the chair and write!
Thanks for the opportunity to win.
>Lots of great advice here. The one I read most recently was in an interview with A K Arenz and was quite timely for me:
At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?
In the mid 90s I took a class called Creative Writing in Fiction at a nearby university. One of the things I walked away with was that if you truly wanted to write, if it’s what you felt you were called to do, you had to trust your gut. Sometimes relying on critiques and such can stifle you—but that’s something each individual has to decide.
>The best piece of writing advice I've ever heard is this: The cure for writer's block is to lower your expectations.
>The best piece of advice about writing–lose your ego and tell the truth. The truth is essential to all storytelling.
>Best writing advice received: Just because it's important to you, does not mean it's important to your reader.
That gave me permission to delete stuff I loved, but did not change the integrety of the story to get a more concise work.
>Best advice – write what you want, even if it's not "popular".
>A friend just told me last month that I better write the rest of the book so she knows what happens. It motivated to put my dream into motion and that I might just have a story someone may love more than me.
>Best writing advice I ever received:
"One word at a time."
I can tell you, it really works.
>When it comes to writing for publication: "Exceptional talent is only half as important as exceptional discipline." (Not sure of the exact words, but more or less to this effect ;o) Another version of the same: "Writer's WRITE."
>Hmm, not sure about "the best" but I really liked the advice not to get too hung up on your first book (or second or whatever) to be THE ONE. Write the next book. (And not just the next in a series.)
>I'm one of the many who would love to win this book, I guess. It's a little hard to choose which piece of writing advice is the best I've received. I read a lot of books on writing each year, since going to a conference has been a bit beyond the personal finances of our family so far. I think the best has come from either Les Edgerton, Harold Underdown, James Denney, or James Scott Bell.
Maybe it's really from all four of them: Write daily and make yourself stick to a quota. That discipline will eventually produce.
>The best piece of advice I ever received was "write the book that chooses you."
The advice came from John Lescroart, during his keynote at the 2007 Maui Writers' Conference. (He's a fantastic speaker, if you ever have the chance to hear him you should take it.) He talked about his early career and his struggles with finding an agent and obtaining the coveted "published status" so many of us seek. The entire speech was great, but the diamond moment was the statement, "Keep at it until you find the book you were meant to write – the book that chooses you. That is the one that will get you published."
It's easy to get caught up in "what the industry wants" or "what agent X wants" or even "what is selling most this week" but at the end of the day if you're not passionate about what you write, it comes through in the writing (and vice versa). Step 1 is writing the book that chooses you.
>Start the story where you'd want it to start if you were the one reading it for the first time.
>My MIL is an author and recommended morning pages (Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way). It really makes a difference on the days I sit down to clear my subconscious.
My favorite comes from Jodi Picoult: "I do not believe in writer's block, because once I didn't have the luxury of believing it. When you only have twenty minutes, you write – whether it's garbage, or it's good… you just DO it, and you fix it later."
>"There are no such things as good writers, only good rewriters."
>I'd say the best advice I've received for improving the quality of my writing is from Elements of Style:
Cut unnecessary words.
>Stop writing so preciously.
>Read your work aloud.
It's not a race.
Revise, revise, revise, trim, trim, trim.
Best advice: Go back and reduce your word count by 10%.
>best advice? "Trust your readers."
>"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot." — Stephen King
This advice freed me from guilt about spending so much of my time reading! 🙂
>Best advice I received was to write what you enjoy reading. Once I did that, my first novel just flew onto the pages.
>This has already been said above, but the best advice I've gotten is to turn off my inner editor and just write. For some reason that helped me to stop talking about how I wanted to be a writer, and actually become one.
>The best piece of writing advice I've received is to stop thinking about writing and just write.
>I've heard so many good things about this book that I really need to break down and go get one.
>The best advice I ever received was have a trusted critique partner.
>We've all heard "never give up." But it was Jay Asher's talk at the SCBWI NY conference in 2008– where he described how it took him 12 yrs to get published (and then 13 Reasons Why made the NYT bestseller list)– that really made that message real to me.
>Simple. Write because you love it!
>I think the best I've had is to let the story goes where it wants to go. It didn't make sense until one of my side characters hijacked my story into a major character, but I think it explains every book I've ever read where I've wanted to chuck it across the room because the characters seemed to be stupid.
>Don Maass gave me the best writing advice, in one of his workshops. When creating conflict for your protagonist, always think: "How can it matter EVEN MORE?"
>Never give up!
>Read your work out loud. You'll hear things that you'd never see on the page as a problem.
>The best advice I ever got was to know that the first draft was going to be terrible and not to let it get you down.
>Write everyday, no matter what. Even if it is only 100 words.
>Don't quit your day job until you can afford to write full-time. In the meantime, write part-time & save what you earn so you can quit your day job once you have 6-12 months living expenses saved.
The best advice I got came from a humanities professor by the name Burt Stout "There is Profundity in simplicity."
Don't ever duplicate Mad Hatter Syndrome in your writing (Did he ever make any sense?). Make good sense. DO emanate the power and endurance of the Energizer Bunny–you are going to need it. Always, ALWAYS be ever so curious–go beyond imagination. Seek out the surreal, then simplify it–condense.
>The best writing advice I ever got was to kick my inner editor to the curb. I would agonize over every word and phrase and would end up going nowhere fast. It's still hard not to stop and nitpick, but now I just remind myself that that's what revisions are for!
>from Nike, "Just do it."
>I have a quote on my wall from Ryan Adams that keep me inspired during the good, bad, and ugly of writing:
"A man doesn't get driven to write a book unless there's a sense of loss, unless there's something missing. I used everything I had to lessen that gap to jump across from who I was to who I wanted to be. I wanted to get it on paper because I knew I'd never feel that way again."
This is how I feel about writing. We're writing a book to get something on paper, to fill a void the world didn't know was there until they read our book.
>Best advice: Write every day. It doesn't matter what you write, but you must do it all the time.
>Don't start revising until you've finished writing.
>Mine is a simple one–a$$ in the chair.
>Don't be afraid to take your time in putting words to paper. Quality over quantity.
>The best advice I've ever received was "Write 1,000 words a day no matter what. After you write those 1,000 words you can give yourself the rest of the day off but most likely you won't want to."
>This one comes from a non-writer, but fits perfectly for writing Christian fiction. Ladies and Gentlemen, Winston Churchill:
"Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."
>I've heard a lot about this book, and would love to get a copy! The best piece of writing advice I've ever gotten was to write what you love. I'd tried to fit certain molds before, but just giving myself permission to write what I love has taken my writing to a much better place!
>Ron Carlson said, "Get enough sleep at night," meaning that writing doesn't require you to be Hunter S. Thompson, and in fact you'll probably do it better if you actually take care of yourself.
Also, Kurt Vonnegut's eight rules of writing, my favorite of which is: "Start as close to the end as possible."
>The best piece of advice I got was from Rush Limbaugh many years ago (don't shoot the messenger!). He said that in order to write you have to have an iron butt. That's all. And iron butt.
>At the risk of repeating the same old advice, I'll give my favorite: if you want to be a writer, sit down and do it. If you want to write well, read good books and study them.
>I'm a sucker for a prize! I have two: Get your butt in the chair and first drafts are s***.
>I have received SO much good advice. The best so far is the simplest and the most difficult: persevere, especially if I know I'm meant to write. Or, as my favorite Book says,
"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."–Jeremiah 29:11
I try to remember that, even if I'm never published, the writing has prospered my life in so many ways.
>Best advice was polish, polish, polish, send out query, and start writing another book immediately.
>A lot of great advice on here.
One of the better ones I have heard:
When you write, you are an artist.
When you seek to get published, you need to be a salesperson and business focused.
>I have a couple of favorites:
1. Write for yourself, edit for your reader.
2. Write the story you want to read.
>Might not count, because Anne Lamott wrote it, but this is the best writing advice I ever heard:
"You must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Don't worry about appearing sentimental. Worry about being unavailable; worry about being absent or fraudulent. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it."
Thanks for this opportunity, Rachelle. If I don't win the book, I will buy it!
>Write from the soul, not from some notion of what you think the marketplace wants. The market is fickle; the soul is eternal.–Jeffrey A. Carver
>Cool 🙂 I've heard lots of great advice, but the thing that's probably been the most useful to me is to use beta readers (actual writers, too, not friends/family). I never imagined how incredibly helpful these fresh eyes could be, and they truly helped make my book so much better than it was.
>Best writing advice I've ever heard: Start as close to the end as possible.
Looks like a great book! Definitely going on my list.
>The best advice ever given to me was to write what I know and write what I like to read. That way, I'm writing for myself.
>Forget the inner editor when you're writing your first draft. That is a liberating statement for me.
>I don't know if this counts as advice, because it's something Anne Lamott wrote, so she didn't say it to me personally, but it had a huge impact on my writing:
"If something inside you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Worry about being unavailable; worry about being absent or fraudulent. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it."
Isn't that totally awesome?!
Thanks for the opportunity to win the book, Rachelle. If I don't win it, I will buy it for sure.
>A book writers must read? What would that be? A dictionary? Haha, it made me wonder. This books sounds GREAT Rachelle, thanks for making it available to your blog followers like this, it creates a demand 🙂
The best advice I received: write something every day… if you can't do a chapter, write a blog, a song, a thougt, a shoppinglist… it doesn't matter, as long as you WRITE!
>I'd have to say it's a tie between my graduate thesis advisor, who was fond of pointing out that if you just wrote one page a day, in a year you'd have 365 pages, and Phillip Pullman, who once said (not to me, but it stuck with me) something to the effect that plumbers aren't allowed to have plumber's block, what makes writers so special?
>The best piece of writing advice I've received is "get over yourself." You've got to quiet down your inner perfectionist in order to get anything on the page. When it's time to revise, you can let her speak up again.
GLOSSING OVER IT
>The best advice that I received was just sit down and write. It doesn't have to be perfect, in fact it won't be. Accept it, embrace it, and write. There will be time to edit later.
>Crappy first drafts are okay. Somewhere in the sea of trash, there's probably a treasure to build from.
>Writing is a craft, similar to other art and music. With study and lots of practice (butt in chair, hands on keyboard!) our writing skills can improve.
The idea that a "real" writer writes effortlessly and is somehow born, not made, is a myth. I'm sure that for some it's true, but for the rest of us it's just hard work! (And lots of practice. Just keep writing, just keep writing. I watch Finding Nemo too! :0) )
>The best advice I've had is to "be yourself" when you write.
>I would love to read this book.
One bit of advice I liked: Write about what happened, and avoid writing about what *didn't* happen.
Thanks, to you and to Betsy!
>Best writing advice I've ever received is simple: Sit down and write. If you don't do that, all other writing advice you can get is moot.
>I can see this is already quite the popular one, but – WRITE.
Butt in chair, hands on keyboard. Write first, edit later. Finish the book.
Methods vary, genres are infinite, quirks and tips and tricks will span the universe.
The one thing all writers have in common is that they write. 🙂
>The best advice I've ever heard, Rachelle, was "Be specific."
>This book is on my wish list! Thanks Rachelle for being so gracious!
Best advice: Prepare (study, learn, grow in your craft)like it all depends on you and write like it all depends on God.
>best advice was something i read from one of the many books i randomly pick up. it said that writers block doesn't exist unless you let it. it only has as much power as you let it have…
this book looks really good!!
>A multi published author and editor told me recently "Fix it and send it." Simplistic enough to get me over a hump of indicision.
>Write the first 5 chapters then throw away the first chapter.
I'd love to win the book.
>Best advice, I think from David Lodge's "The Art of Fiction": Get the characters desiring something on page 1, so the reader wants to keep reading.
>From Steve Berry: "Keep on writing."
I did. After 10 years and 4 manuscripts my first novel, EYEWALL, will be published in May.
To read your work out loud. It highlights inconsistencies and improves dialogue and pacing.
>I love that book. Best writing advice? Don't give up.
>Write the book you want to read. For me, that's the best advice.
>Write the first draft with the door closed, then revise with it open – I'm pretty sure that's from Stephen King's ON WRITING.
>Same advice as many others have mentioned; write something every day.
>thank you so much for this chance Rachelle.
much has been said already..
I'll add to read your writing out loud.
>Wait, we're supposed to write only one best piece of advice? I have so many. I guess that negates the whole, "Good-Better-Best" idea, but how can I narrow it down to just one?
I think one thing that struck me recently was something that Laurie Halse Anderson said in her WFMAD in August of this year. That was that your first draft will suck, but each time we revise, it gets a little less sucky! So, my advice is this: write. Write, write, write. Revise and edit the suckitude out later.
>I love Rachel Hauck's advice: "Tell the story between the quotes." Sometimes when I have a great line in internal monologue, I remember this and it's amazing how much stronger it is when it comes out of the mouth of a character.
>Simple but true–Writers Write.
Especially when they don't feel like it. 🙂
>Engage at least three senses in every scene.
(Writers tend to rely too much on visual description. To really put the reader in the scene, you need more.)
>The best writing advice I have ever received is: Write, Write, Write…and don't stop.
>The writer's job is to uncover the story that's already there. Thank you Stephen King!
>Write what you love, not what you think people will love.
>Best writing advice?
"Never give up. Keep learning, keep trying."
Thanks for the opportunity to win such a wonderful book.
>The best piece of advice I ever got was through Marion Zimmer Bradley's "Advice to New Writers" essay. That essay introduced me to the Butt-in-Chair method. If you want to write, all you have to do is apply the seat of your pants firmly to the seat of your chair, and WRITE.
>Best piece of advice: be yourself, don't try to be some other writer.
>So much great advice here ^_^
For me, best piece of writing advice ever – trust yourself.
Which (I suspect) intentionally leaves a lot of room for interpretation.
>I've seen this book several times while browsing the bookstores but I never picked it up. Now I'm interested and I'd like to read it.
>The best advice I've ever heard is that writing itself it easy; it's the writers that make it hard. Just write!
>Best writing advice ever – "Shut up and write"
>Read as much as possible. Read the kind of books you want to write. Read the kind of books you don't want to write, too. Just read!
>"Get the guts down." A reminder to myself to put the heart and soul and essence of the story down on the paper first – that's what's going to move the reader, what's going to touch them. Sorting it all out and structuring it and editing it come later.
"Don't give up and don't doubt yourself, keep writing!"
>Best writing advice: "Write the books you love to read and the rest will follow." – Mi esposo
>Start with an action; no waking up, contemplating in the car, or back story.
>Author Anne Lamott, "Bird by Bird," continue writing even if you start out with a sh**ty first draft.
>Just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing (a variation of Dorie's theme from little Nemo — just keep swimming, just keep swimming …)
>I have been told by many to stop being afraid and starting writing. It's time to share my story!
>Best piece of writing advice I ever got was from Jon Land, a best-selling author of 25+ books. (I met him at a book-signing he was doing at my neighborhood bookstore. No one was there so I got some time with him.)
To the point… At the time, I was struggling with endlessly writing and rewriting my first 20-30 pages. He told me, "Don't do that. You can rewrite 25 pages 25 times and you'll have 25 pages. Or you can write 500 pages."
We went on to discuss how those pages I was perfecting would probably not be the book's opening, and might end up cut altogether.
I took the advice, stopped rewriting the opening, and just wrote. And I now have a complete book that I've been editing. (No, those first 25 pages are not the opening. In fact, as Land predicted, they're mostly gone from the book. Some of it's scattered here and there, but most of it got cut.)
>I guess it isn't advice, but hope! Watching the Oprah interview this week with J.K. Rowling, that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone got rejected by 12 publishers. Picked up by the 13th, and the rest is history isn't it?
I guess the advice from that is to have some faith in what you've written!
>Best piece of advice: Everyone has a great story to tell. Some don't care about telling it, some care about publishing it, while others just write it down – decide which one you are.
>I like E.L. Doctorow's comment: “Writing a book is like driving a car at night. You only see as far as your headlights go, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
>Write like you are tying your shoes.
>The best piece of writing advice I ever received was "Turn off the inner editor and WRITE."
>Read what you want to write; write what you want to read.
>Allow yourself to write a zero draft– Your first draft is just about getting your thoughts down. Don't be overly critical with your first draft or it'll paralyze you before you even start. I've heard it called the crappy draft. It's okay if it's bad. You'll fix it later. Just write it down!
>It's your story. Write it.
>The best advice I ever heard was from C.S. Lewis: "No man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."
>Read widely and make writing your priority.
I want to win this book!
>Write something everyday, and don't "empty the well" completely.
>From my husband: You know all those voices in your head? I think you need to put them on paper.
So I did. 🙂
>Write. Develop a writing habit that works for me and stick with it. Everything else flows from there. I must first get the words out of my head and down on the page.
>BIC (butt in chair) is the best advice I've ever come across.
Write everyday, even if it's only 10 minutes or five words. You won't write if you don't make writing a habit and priority. You won't write if you don't give yourself the chance to write. It all comes down to BIC.
(Thanks, Lilith Saintcrow!)
>Definitely BICHOK. With so much going on in my life, sometimes just the act of sitting down to write is the hardest thing to do. 🙂
>Do the work.
>"Just take it bird by bird." -Anne Lamott
>I am an engineering technical writer for a NASA contractor. Three years ago I was hired and I had my doubts as to whether or not I could do the job. A friend of mine asked me whether or not I lied or promise anything that I couldn't deliver. I said no. She then said you are qualified to do the job. It was the best decision I ever made. I have grown so much as a writer.
>We can say what we want to say with far fewer words than we usually use.
Less can be more.
>The best advice came just the other day from a blog post by Mary DeMuth: "getting published doesn't validate who you are as a person." Publication is nice, but it's not the main reason you write. You write because you're called to write.
>Write something, anything, everyday.
>The best writing advice I ever received was: write your story–then edit your story, then read your story–then edit your story; and repeat until you finish your story in the best way it can be told.
>Best advice so far: Just Write! and Do Not Give Up!
The best thing to do is to not over think what you are trying to write. Sit down, and get out your thoughts onto the paper/hard drive. That's the first and hardest part, but once it's done, you can go from there…
And Do Not Give Up. You have to see it through…
Best advice I got was to "back up your sh**"
When I almost lost every thing I ever wrote in a near fatal computer crash I realized that I was a dope for not listening. It's mortifying to think it's all gone for good.
>Stop talking about ideas and start writing! Unfortunately I have let way too many ideas float away on the breeze.
>I read somewhere Vonnegut's advice (and I'm paraphrasing) that absolutely every sentence and word must work to advance the plot, set the scene, or develop character. And every character must want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
>Best Writing Advice:
BUTT IN CHAIR.
Thanks for this opportunity!
>Best "advice": You're not a writer unless you actually write. That's always a kick in the pants for me!
>Get it down on paper.
If you wait for the perfect words or perfect description, you'll never have a written book. You can always go back and re-read, revise, and edit your MS to make it better or express the ideas you had in your head. But the perfect words will never happen, if you don't write it first.
>Show don't tell. 😀
>Write on a computer that doesn't have access to the Internet so you won't be tempted to check Facebook, Twitter and email when you should be writing.
>Never give up.
Forest for the Trees sounds like a great read.
>I've gotten a lot of good advice. I can't say what's the best, because each bit was valuable. Let's go with: if you're a writer, and you're serious about it, write everyday. You might write a whole paragraph, but only end up with one good sentence. But that sentence is valuable.
>There is piece of advice that I consider really important when writing fiction: I owe nothing to reality. When writing anything, the single most important thing I have learned is to stay in the room and keep writing – not to stop for anything.
>Best advice: Just do it!
>Murder your babies.
In other words, edit yourself ruthlessly.
>It's been said a lot, but it is the best advice I've ever followed, so here it is again:
Write it first, fix it later.
>"Take as long as you need to get it right. We're in this for the long haul."
From the Shark herself, who says we all need this book. Probably me more than most, given that I'm in the process of writing the world's longest, most convoluted contemporary romance.
>Often when you're looking for that something extra – a character trait, a subplot – it's already in your MS. You just have to look.
>Write the book you want to read.
>Plan your novel like you are GOD and the characters are your people, but write it like you are the characters.
>In the first draft, tell yourself the story. In subsequent drafts, tell the reader the story.
>Thanks to all the comments above for helpful tips! The advice that I try to remember is to know my audience and think about my story in terms of what they want to be reading.
>I read this book a little while ago. It was very interesting, and I am certainly intrigued by what the updates are!
Anyway, the best advice I have received, or at least my version of it, is "Never look back" – write it without rereading, and certainly without editing.
A close second best is "turn off the internet".
>Accept your first draft will be crappy. It frees you to write.
>Discipline builds momentum. – Lilith Saintcrow
>The best writing advice I'm ever received is this: don't take rejections personal. It's not a rejection of you, but of that particular piece of writing. Plus, someone else might love it!
>Take a class. I love the friendly competition and give and take that you can find in a group of like-minded people.
>Best advice I've gotten so far:
Research the industry online! Blogs, news, etc.
A long time ago I was searching for anything Lord of the Rings online and came across Debbie Ohi's comic strip "Waiting for Frodo". After being intensely interested in her site, I realized she was a writer and started following her blog. Soon, she posted links and suggestions to other writerly blogs and from there, my exposure to the publishing industry grew.
I used to follow Betsy Lerner's blog, which was quite awesome. Getting a free copy of her book would be pretty sweet.
>Best advice? I've received a lot, and most of it's been good. But the best was simply to keep writing. Put another way, "Apply rear end to chair and fingers to keys. Write. Revise. Write. Lather, rinse, repeat."
Thanks for the opportunity to win what sounds like a great book.
>I was recently told that if the desire to write for publication was in here *taps heart* then my efforts to follow that leading will be blessed. Then, she told me to remember Paul told us to run the race before us. I was so excited, I nearly left to get back to writing.
>Professor Jonathan Bishop of Cornell University: "Most rejection letters boil down to 'We can't make a ton of money off this.'"
>Best advice…"Make time to write every day! Writers write daily."
>The best piece of advice I ever got was to stop comparing my writing method to others. You can't let anyone else tell you what is the right way to write. My circle of friends are prolific, crowing about their 3k words a day, while I'm feeling good if I get 700. It took a long time to realize that's my normal.
>Understand that style and grammar are not always black and white. Paint your story in shades of gray.
Close second: Know when to STOP editing.
>Do we get extra entries if we quote your advice? 🙂
Seriously, I can't remember where I read this, but it's worked for me to write faster:
Select a topic
Prepare the facts
Establish a structure
Eliminate distractions (hardest!!)
Dash to the finish
>Turn off the TV.
>It's not really advice, maybe more a mantra… but a workshop professor/published author in my undergrad once told me, when I expressed doubt in myself, to "Keep writing." I still say it to myself now when I feel those same doubts creeping in!
>Butt in chair!
>Good, better, best-
Never let it rest
'Til your good gets
Your better gets best!
>The best writing advice that I've gotten is that it's okay to have a lousy first draft. Let the creativity flow and get the ideas down; then come back to tweak them. No one has to read your first draft but you, so you have time to craft it into something that you will be really happy with.
>My 16 year old to me, after I spent hundreds of dollars and 30 hours at a Robert McKee Story workshop: "Mom, just WRITE the book!"
>Come in to scenes late and leave them early.
I love following that writing tip.
>Imagine the possibilities.
>"Apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair."
I am a thinker. I create huge, complicated, interesting, breath-taking stories… but all in my head. And once I have a written rough draft, I can whip the ugliest beast into the most beautiful creature. But getting the story from my head onto paper is the hard part.
A shorter version of the above advice would be Nike's slogan: Just do it. I'm not a writer until I write, no matter how fantastic the stories in my head are. When I procrastinate, I have to remind myself of this truth often.
>"Don't straiten the chairs on the deck when the Titanic is sinking"- meaning take care of the big stuff first then worry about the editing of the small stuff. Plus you have to build the complete ship first before you can fix it.
>I think the best advice for me was to get involved with other writers and folks in the industry and start learning from them. It made all the difference in the world. There is so much instruction, encouragement, and camraderie to be found through writers groups and sites like yours, Rachelle.
>The absolute best writing advice I've ever gotten is "Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard, typing away madly!" 😉
>Best advice: If you aren't moved by your scenes, your readers won't be.
Thanks! Look forward to reading this book whether I win it or not. 🙂
>Best advice I've ever had …. read everything you can on what you're writing about. Read fiction – see what's out there already.
Read non-fiction and exhaust your topic.
Also print out a hard copy for your edits. It's amazing what you end up seeing on actual paper.
Thank you for the opportunity. We've all heard quite a bit about this one.
>Best piece of advice I got was: Pay attention to your critiques, but at the end of the day you've got to do what feels right for your manuscript. It's so easy to listen to others' opinions and ultimately edit your voice right out of your manuscript.
>Just write. Write now. Fix later.
>I've received lots of good advice, but the one I most recently keep using is to pray before I write. It takes the pressure off me. I realize the priority is for God's will to be done, not mine. So, then I'm ready for new ideas. I see creative struggles as God showing me something that needs to change. It gives me great strength to rely on God more than myself.
>"The most important thing is you can't write what you wouldn't read for pleasure. It's a mistake to analyze the market thinking you can write whatever is hot. You can't say you're going to write romance when you don't even like it. You need to write what you would read if you expect anybody else to read it." ~ Nora Roberts (from Writer's Digest Facebook Page).
Writing advice doesn't get much beter than that!
>The most important writing advice I've received, from Lysa TerKeurst, "Writer's write."
>The one thing that I was told early on was to write. You will never be a writer until you write, so you have to write everyday.
>Thanks Rachelle! I will definitely read it. Hopefully I'll win a copy.
The best I've been given is to just get your story out of your head and on paper. I'm such a perfectionist that I want to keep going back and revising what I've already written in my first draft before it is completed.
Since being given this advice I just type away putting my thoughts down on paper (or more correctly Microsoft Word). Keeping in the back of my head that I can go back and revise later after the first draft is done has done wonders for me getting my story out of my head.
>Great contest! Best Advice: Don't give up!
>By far the best advice I ever got was to write all the time, even when I don't feel like it – ESPECIALLY when I don't feel like it.
>Stop thinking about writing and being a writer and just do it!
>"Just Do It! Don't talk about doing it; just do it" This is the best advise I've ever been given. It doesn't matter if it's crap, garbage, or a master piece – it won't become anything if you don't put it down on paper…or screen as it may be.
>Best piece of advice (that I struggle with when I'm in a "block"): Write. Anything. Even if it means typing random words on a page. Eventually it will unlock.
>So many possibilities – many of which are wonderfully covered in the above comments.
In the interest of tossing something new on the table, I'll add my favorite quote about writing. I've got this printed out and placed on my Vision Board.
"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass…" ~ Anton Chekhov
>So many possibilities – many of which are wonderfully covered in the above comments.
In the interest of tossing something new on the table, I'll add my favorite quote about writing. I've got this printed out and placed on my Vision Board.
"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass…" ~ Anton Chekhov
>Best advice (and something I wished I'd listened to for Book 1) — "Start your story where the action is."
>"Give yourself permission to write badly."
Really a summing up of several different variations, like "first drafts are always rough," this advice, which doesn't even really sound like advice, is what has allowed me to let my stories leave the perfection of my head and become real and living on paper. Knowing that you won't write perfectly the first time frees you up to write as well as you can. There's always editing later.
>Best advice for me came from a published friend who said, "You want to be a writer? Stop talking about writing and write. No one cares about an unfinished manuscript."
Here's hoping I win. I've been wanting to read this book.
>You can't edit a blank page into anything other than a blank page.
>oops sorry for spelling error – too early.. should be:
"The most helpful and freeing advice I have been given is "If you want to be a good writer you have to be a bad one first."
maybe I need that book most of all. lol
>The only way to learn to write a book is to write a book. Finish it, then do it again. Oh, and read. Read, read, read. If you don't stop, I can't guarantee you'll be a great writer, but you will get better.
That's a paraphrase of Diana Gabaldon's writing advice, given countless times in the past twenty years to writers who've wandered through the on-line writing forum, Books & Writers Community.
The other "best" writing advice I've ever received came from several sources before it finally sank in a couple years ago, and is specific to my own writing weakness, TMI (Too Much Information, given too soon). "Does the reader _really_ need to know this _now_, or can it wait?" That's the most helpful question I can ask myself during the editing process.
>The most heplful and freeing advice I have been given is "If you want to be a good writer you have to be a bad one first."
>The best piece of advice I've received is write to the middle. There has to be either success or failure at the midpoint or most of the book is going to be very boring.
>Best Advice: Sit down and write.
>"Writing takes time. You have to start making some for it now, and perhaps if you never stop, you'll get somewhere."
I learned to move my schedule around to write regularly. I don't know if I got somewhere yet, but I hope I will. 🙂
>Keep your character in the moment to avoid 'telling'.
>The only success you may ever have is finishing the stories you start. Being published is a possible end result, but the accomplishment of maintaining your love of writing -whether you achieve publication or not- needs to be an acceptable level of success. The more private success you have in finishing stories, the better your chances of having success on a larger scale. Never stop writing.
>The best writing advice I've ever gotten was: Know the rules before you break them. I strained against that for a long time, but now it makes more sense than anything else.
It's why I'm getting my MFA now, and I've learned so much.
>There's so much great advice out there and so many sayings that keep me going. But the one that runs most often through my head, like the Little Engine That Could, is this:
"A professional is just an amateur who didn't quit." ~Richard Bach
>I'd love to win a copy! Thanks for running this. With so much writing advice out there, it's nice to know what is extra valuable.
>Your purpose as a writer is to create a strong emotional reaction in the reader. I try to remind myself of this with each scene, what do I want my reader to feel in this scene? Then I go to work.
>very simple – "have the characters touch one another at some point, or touch something in the world."
hold hands, brush away a stray hair, adjust someone else's ruffled clothes, play with a found feather or a pen.
It doesn't sound like much, but having people interact with their environment and each other makes them seem grounded, involved, and subtly connects them to each other.
>Best advice: "Don't FORGET to write what you know."
I'd always heard the rule "Write What You Know," but frankly, what I know is not interesting, especially not book-length interesting. This adviced freed me to delve into subjects that I WANT to know, and without taking it to heart, I doubt I'd have written my first book.
>"Writers Write" when I get all caught up in finishing and polishing and researching it is good to remember that the important thing is that I am writing.
>You may be told that you can't write, but never let anyone say that you don't write.
>To read ten Memoirs.
>Scarcity increases production.
Don't 'write' all the time, you won't get much done, because you will procrastinate. Instead block out 3 hours of time a few times a week … with no distractions (go offline) and write!
>(Nonfiction) Say what you want to say, polish — and then cut it by 20%.
>Just SAY you're going to write, and people will stop arguing with you about it. Actually works!
Although the advice about a word quota was good too…
>Write every day.
>A dream without an action plan is just a dream.
>Be patient and persevere.
>I remember reading that book about ten years ago. I need to read it again! It's time.
The best advice I've heard: Writing is the fine art of applying butt to chair.
>Best advice: Do your research. It applies to everything: craft, content, publishing, marketing … every aspect of being a writer. Do your research.
>Oh, everyone's advice is so good! Mine has already been said, but it is from Finding Forrester: Write with your heart, rewrite with your head.
>I went to a comic book convention and attended a writer's workshop with Brian Michael Bendis. He had a lot of great things to say. He kept mentioning a book he read and reread over the years, He told us to get a copy of it and memorize it.
The book, Story by Robert McKee.
It really is a great book and I have so many underlined passages that I can't pick one piece of advice from it.
That's why the best advice I ever got was from this famous writer to read it.
>Write every day. Even if it's for five minutes. Just write.
>The best piece of information I probably received about writing is butt in chair and just WRITE.
If I never just sat down and let myself just go and write, I wouldn't be considered a writer today. You could be a genius at the written word, but not even you would really know unless you wrote something down.
>Don't force it. Writer's block means something's wrong. Either something's out of character, or you don't know your character(s) or their goals or something well enough to continue.
>So much great advice.
Read all the time (especially in the genre in which you write).
When you think you are finished, edit it again.
>Best advice: Before becoming a writer, make your piece with the two pillars of writing. The first is human apathy. Make it a warm familiar friend. Learn to love it. The second pillar is humiliation. Make it your friend. It can be a great teacher on occasion. If you can become at peace with the two pillars, your true writing will flow to the paper in an unstoppable way. People can always recognize true from the heart writing and can never stop reading once they start.
>To be a writer, you have to be a reader.
>To be a writer, you have to be a reader.
>Concerning "resist the urge to explain:"
Don't tell the reader anything — ANYTHING — let them figure it out for themselves.
>Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of this book, Rachelle.
Two pieces of advice that have been invaluable to me – Like most have written, just keep writing that first draft on the days that you love it, hate it, or think it will never get finished.
The second is read, read, read in the genre you write.
>Use as few words as possible.
>I have received so much good advice but one quote that comes to mind goes something like "The art of writing is the art of combining the seat of your pants and the seat of your chair." Just sit down and do it. And don't expect the first draft to be good.
>The best writing advice I've ever internalized and made a lasting part of my process: It's ok to write crap.
And so I do. I write lots of crap. Once in awhile, there buried amongst the crap, is a jewel in need of a little polish.
>The best piece of advice I've ever heard is never give up, never stop writing, and write from your heart, edit from your head.
>Show, don't tell and, whatever you do, don't be disheartened if at first you get rejected. It isn't the end of the world and it doesn't necessarily mean you can't write; you just might not have found the right agent to query.
>Never believe you'll know everything there is to know about writing. Every day will bring a new learning experience – be open to these experiences and always seek to improve as a writer.
>Anything can be made better with revision.
>Best advice ever? Just keep writing, writing, writing, just keep writing, writing…
I'm singing it to the "Just keep Swimming" tune on Finding Nemo. Grin.
>Having 'bum glue' – ie glue your butt to the seat and WRITE DAMMIT!
Thanks for that, John Marsden! (Aussie YA/kids author)
>"Trust that you have a reason to write this."
– said by Kerry Cohen, online writing instructor and author of, among others, 'Loose Girl'
>For me it was to have extreme patience and perseverance. I may not like it that I still don't have an agent, but I know I know I won't give up.
>"Just do it."
If you don't just start writing it out, you're never going to go anywhere (up or down).
>The best advise I got was from Sean Connery's character in the movies "Finding Forrester" – "No thinking – that comes later. You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is… to write, not to think!"
>The best advice I've received is: "Finish it. You can always fix it later." I've found this to be *mostly* true. 🙂
>My best advice was "Write what you know." Take it a step further and do the research to learn more about 'what you know.'
>The most helpful for me:
Finish the first draft!
Second drafts are for editing and polishing. First drafts are for the pure joy of creative writing 🙂
>Finish The Damn Book.
Sounds simple, but so many people – including myself for many years – never do. And you can't sell a manuscript unless it's finished.
>If you want to be a writer, write.
>Best Advice: Don't think, just write.
This advice saw me through completing my first manuscript. I used to always stop, second guess myself, edit, re-start, etc., and now I know I can make it through the hard stuff and finish a first draft.
Skip the MFA program and just keep writing.
Close second: "who does what to whom", not "what happens next?" (both from Simon Hawke in a fantastic summer school course in SFF writing called Dragonslaying 101)
>For me, it was to study other pieces in my genre to learn the form/structure. I've been reading Priscilla Long's Portable Writing Mentor for this and my nonfiction has greatly improved.
>My two pieces of best advice would be:
Only write what moves you, whether it's love, hate, fear, etc
The only think you can't edit is a blank page.
>Kurt Vonnegut: Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
>Priority One Advice: HUMILITY
– Let people who don't care about your feelings read and criticize.
– Find others who know more than you and listen.
– Know that you'll never know everything and always be willing to learn.
>Just keep writing!
>The best advice given to me:
Never give up.
I think that one speaks for itself, and it's a bit trite, so the best writing-specific advice I've received is:
Always carry a notebook or something to record ideas with you.
>I've been reading lots of good things lately about this book.
Best piece of writing advice was from an article in Writer's Digest (I think last January — I have the link on my blog). Anyway, it was "rough it up." Basically, don't be afraid to make mistakes, scratch things out … your first draft doesn't have to be perfect. Reading that article really gave me the push I needed to write my first book.
>"Write it down now. Even if it's not perfect, you can edit it later." My friend Cassandra is right!
>My best advice was that the rules aren't a formula for getting published—they're guidelines. Use them when it benefits your writing.
>Best advice: Do it because you love it. 🙂
>My best advice was not to put off writing until Ms. Muse shows up. Just sit down and write. Like anyone late to a party she'll soon discover she wasn't indispensable and next time she might show up on time so as not to miss the fun. 🙂
>The best advice I've ever gotten is also the simplest–and the hardest to follow:
BICHOK. Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard.
There's no replacement for sitting down and putting in the hours at the keyboard… no amount of shortcuts or tips or writing wisdom can change the fact that at the end of the day, you need to just DO it! And no one can make the decision to do it but you.
>best piece of advice I've got: don't force it, if what you're writing doesn't feel natural, you'll end up hating it.
>Best recent advice: Stop listening to EVERYONE and choose one person to help you go a step further.
>Write…write…write…that's the best advice ever for me.
>A useful piece of advice I got was to cut the last line of my paragraphs, because it is almost always saying something that has already been said and lessening the impact of the rest of the paragraph. I've found this to be SO true in my writing.
>Best advice was: Write First, Edit Later.
I know some edit as they go, and I do a little of that. But I went years without finishing a novel because I thought every word had to be perfect before I was done. Once I heard that, and believed it. I finished a book, then a better book and it was really all owing to that mantra. 🙂