Monday, January 20, 2014

The Best Writing Advice Ever

What is the best writing advice? I'm often asked this question and, while one piece of advice is never the ultimate golden nugget guaranteed to work for every single writer on the planet, I will always repeat advice given to me:
"Keep writing and don't give up."
If you do keep writing and striving to improve, then you will:

Gain confidence. The more you write, the more comfortable you'll become writing. With this comfort, comes confidence.

Discover your voice. If you keep writing, then you'll find your own voice, rather than borrowing the voice of a favourite author. Your uniqueness will naturally begin to shine.

Master the theory. There's only so much theory one can read about. You have to put it into practice to truly understand it. Some people suggest, once you've written a million words, then you start to 'get it'. This number is not an absolute, of course. Some writers need more, some less. But it takes time and this means never giving up.

Find freedom. If you keep writing, then you'll find the freedom you need to try different things, explore concepts you wouldn't normally explore. You'll become less precious over your every word and you'll stop overthinking every sentence.

Maintain sanity. It's sheer insanity for a writer to give up writing. I know; I tried it once. Not smart. The stories crying out to be written don't go away. The characters begging to be born don't suddenly vanish. The need for creative expression doesn't dry up. Sure, they might hide in the background for a while, but they come out in other ways, such as grumpiness, distraction, and a growing dissatisfaction with life.

Consequently, my heartfelt advice to all writers, new and established: Keep writing and don't give up.

What's the best advice you've ever been given?

106 comments:

  1. Insanity is why I write. :)
    So, I don't go insane!

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    1. Of course, there's a measure of insanity in writing. So technically, insanity isn't all bad. It's just about being able to manage it ;)

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  2. That's great advice and very close to the mantra I use: "The successful writer is the one who never gave up." Have a great week, Lynda!

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  3. I'm a writer through and through and giving up will just eat away at your sanity. Great advice Lynda.

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    1. and the sanity of those close to us too!

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  4. Finish what you start - best writing advice ever.

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    1. Good advice, though scary when I contemplate the number of story starts I have in my drawers/files.

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  5. Great advice Lynda, and this is just the thing I'm working on this year. I've been trying to write something every day, and already I can see the improvement in most of what you've mentioned here. I think discovering my own voice is the hardest thing but I'm getting there slowly.

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  6. I love reading your posts, short, sweet and dead on. I'm still searching for that all elusive confidence. But it's revealing itself bit by bit.

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  7. Definitely keep writing and keep hanging on to your dream! And keep positive! Awwww have a lovely Monday, Lynda! Take care
    x

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  8. That's good advice. I'd add 'write what you enjoy rather than what you think will sell'. If you don't enjoy it, you can't expect others too.

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    1. Yes! Your enjoyment shines through in the writing.

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  9. Writing is one of those things you can read about, but if you're not practicing, all that theory isn't going to make a difference. (Just like playing an instrument.)

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    1. Playing an instrument is a great analogy. When I stopped practicing the piano every day, I got super rusty.

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  10. Write what you are passionate about. I love my themes of science and Sci Fi and action. I couldn't imaging writing anything else. I love the research necessary to writ this stuff. Its a great hobby.

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  11. I agree with Stephen - write what you're passionate about. If you don't, it will show.

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    1. Definitely. Thanks for popping in, Diane.

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  12. Great advice. I think often as beginners we spend too much time worry about all the advice. We spend so much time trying to gather everything we need to know that we don't actually apply it. You're overall advice is the best I've ever heard. Keep writing.

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    1. And there's not enough time to worry AND write!

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  13. That's awesome advice and probably the most important. I'd put Read up there too :)

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    1. Reading is crucial. I might even do a separate post on reading.

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  14. One of my favorite writing advice/quotes is front and center on my bulletin board - "Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work." (Stephen King) It reminds me to sit my butt in the chair and get writing! :)

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  15. The best advice I was ever given was "get some beta readers". It's hard to do an effective rewrite with only your own opinion to work with.

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  16. You've brought up many important elements. For me, it's the confidence thing. And keeping at it, finding a success here and there, is what had built that for me. It's humble self-assurance that I'm heading in the right direction and doing what I love.

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    1. Whenever someone says they found that self assurance to head in the right direction, I get all warm and fuzzy. It's so brilliant.

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  17. Maintain sanity? But methinks me prefers my writers slightly insane :)

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    1. Rest assured, all writers are slightly insane. We write, after all.

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  18. Well, I'm past my million words now, haha. I've TRIED to give up, but it didn't work; I came back to writing. That's great advice, not to give up. But I think it's totally normal to want to, or even try to give up at points!

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    1. absolutely! We need to continue being kind to ourselves and understand our reactions to this insane career are normal.

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  19. I love visiting your site, Lynda, because you always seem to speak directly to me with your advice. I write because, as you said, the voices never go away. They are always there, tapping me on the shoulder.

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    1. Mel, don't tell a non-writer about the voices. They could lock you away for a long while ;)

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  20. I so agree with everything you've mentioned. Gaining confidence has been a big one for me. Thanks SO MUCH for putting my book on your page! Makes me go all soft and mushy inside. :)

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    1. Happy to help, Bish! And again, congratulations!

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  21. I so agree with you and heard that advice early on. Someone said as soon as you finish one project, dig into the next or have more than one going at a time.

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    1. Wise advice. It keeps the momentum going.

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  22. Read, read, read. Write, write, write. I didn't fully agree with this when I first started out...but I do now. :) It just seemed too simple at the time.

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  23. Yep, just keep writing every day. Best way to be

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  24. I also believe in reading...A LOT. Reading your favorite books and looking at how great authors construct their stories is a huge help.

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    1. This can't be said enough and I might do a post on this topic.

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  25. Totally agree - my imagination won't stop generating stories and fantasies. I might as well harness that power for good! The tip to finish what you start is also a biggie.

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    1. harnessing the power for good is the best way to go ;)

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  26. A million words. That is a lot of words. I suppose that is why so many writers have novels that will never see the light of day in drawers. It seemed good at the time, but later... well, it is only when the writing got better than you recognize how BAD it actually was when you began. Of course, your first bit of advice comes into play here. Don't quit. If you do, you'll never get to the Better Writing.

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    1. It's amazing how fast a million words can sneak up on you, especially if you write every day ;)

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  27. I agree with all you've said. And yes, also read a lot. I do that.

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  28. "Keep writing and don't give up" would be the best advice. Like anything, it gets harder the more you do it, but also more worth it.

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    1. Definitely more worth it. I think the more we write, the more we appreciate it too.

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  29. Awesome advice! Never give up is the best advice I've been given too.

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  30. The one that's stuck with me most is what my crit group told me on my first day: Don't take what we say personally, but take it to heart. I think that's a wise approach.

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    1. That's an excellent approach because it keeps you open to hearing advice without the crippling effects.

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  31. I definitely have to agree that your advice is very good! It's the only way to really become a writer, especially the kind that you want to be. Honestly, I've received some very varied advice over the years, but the kind I've found to be the most helpful boils down to not giving up :)

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    1. I could load a truck with all the advice I've heard over the years ;)

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  32. Love it... I totally go by this theory too....:)

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  33. The best advice I was given was to put a manuscript away and not revise it immediately.

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    1. Also fantastic advice!! For me that's essential. I get too close to my stories to be able to revise them properly if I don't have a break between edits.

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  34. So true. I gave it up once too, for several years. Or at least, I told myself I'd give it up...but little tidbits keep seeping through until they exploded onto the scene.

    There's so much amazing advice I've heard or read, but my favorite lately is: "There's an audience for everything." We shouldn't be discouraged if we feel like our writing isn't as epic as someone else's. It's the core emotions and feel that carry book, and there WILL be people who identify with your core.

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    1. Fantastic advice! And so true. We just have to find the right market/readership

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  35. All excellent reasons to be stubborn about it. Funny how that works. ;-)

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

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    1. and writers need to be extremely stubborn creatures

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  36. This is great advice!

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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  37. Lovely advice! My grandmother always said, "If you (me) don't like what you're doing, no one else will either."

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    1. Sage words. When we love what we are doing, that love shines through because we put that much more effort into getting it right, and well, enthusiasm is infectious.

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  38. Love it, Lynda. Thanks for the wonderful advice as always!

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  39. Lynda, you've just given the best advice for writers!! Tenacity and Perseverance and never stop writing!

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  40. Great writing advice, Lyn. Best advice? Dunno, but I like to follow Donald Maas's writing tips. He showed me just how deeply you have to dig to make a story worth reading. But it is true, as you say, that you have to put the theory into practise to learn! That's how I look at my novel attempts - learning by doing.

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    1. Digging deep is the only way to get that raw honesty on the page.

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  41. Best advice ever! Couldn't agree more with all points. :)

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  42. I like the second point a lot. I'm not a writer at the moment, but I have given it a try before, and it is quite easy to fall into trying to imitate your favourite authors. Finding your own voice is a great piece of advice. Thanks for sharing! :)

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    1. As they say, imitation is the highest compliment, but writers need to move away from compliments and into their own voice ;)

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  43. Good stuff. I'm of the never give up school, too :)

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  44. This is definitely good advice! I once had a teacher tell me the two keys to a good book were to have a unique take on something, and not to suck. Lol. Vague, but really true!

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    1. I love the 'not to suck' part of that. That trumps my advice.

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  45. At the moment, I'm working on the maintain sanity! Thanks for reminding me there are other things to focus on.

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    1. Maintaining sanity is still important though!! ;)

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  46. Thanks Lynda, I needed to hear that advice again. Keep writing and don't give up. At times we fall into a I-just-can't-do-this mode, those are the times we need to keep writing and believing in ourselves.

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  47. I think you've covered it - great advice all the way around. :)

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  48. It's true -- if I don't write songs, which is my particular mode of artistic expression, ideas for songs are not going to stop coming up -- I'm simply going to witness them fading away and going unsung, which is too sad to endure.

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    1. From experience, I've found no matter which mode of artistic expression a person decides to take, it works the same way: Use it or lose it.

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  49. I think the best advice for a writer is to never stop writing, to keep writing, write write write, or something along those lines. And the reason it is the best advice is because it is the most basic, obvious piece of advice that seems to be forgotten too often. So thank you for sharing this post with us, Lynda :)

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    1. I hope it helps to remind more writers to write. :)

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  50. excellent advice to succeed in anything!
    it's a hard word to spell and a hard thing to do! ha!
    but worth all the trouble!

    great post!

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