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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

What is the Best Advice You’ve Learned About Writing?

For the past five years, I've been writing this weekly blog and interviewing everyone from first-time writers to those on the NY Times Best Sellers List with movies made from their books. Each time I've done these interviews, I've always learned something new to help me in my writing. I've appreciated the honesty I've received from authors on their writing experiences and the not for publication details they've told me as personal notes.

As this is a new year and time for setting writing goals, I thought I would pass along some of the writing tips from these fabulous authors to motivate and encourage you. If you'd like to learn more about their writing, I've included their links at the end of each of their quotes.

Advice for sending out books: Always respect (and appreciate) other people’s time and only pitch them something you feel is truly relevant to their own needs or goals. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked for companies or people who say they only want to read romantic comedies at this particular time, yet get pitches for all genres anyway. Do your research before you pitch, always! 

Writing is working: To also respect that if this is a career field someone does for a living, know their skills and experience is worth paying them for. I see many “free/spec jobs” listed for writers all the time and it saddens me, for all forms of writing takes time, focus, and skill to do, and if someone is going to put all of that into a project they should also be paid for their time, focus, and skills.

For some reason, people try to talk writers into doing it for free or very little money. But I, like other professional writers I know, normally work on their own projects for free until they’re ready to be pitched and sold. Working on other people’s projects is then an actual job.

Melissa Pilgrim - Writer and editor.

Focus: The most important advice I’ve been given as a writer and that I happily pass along to other writers is to identify and pursue the passion God has given you. Remember you’re an individual.

Though we may need to be aware of publishing trends, we shouldn’t let them dictate our work. If we do, we may find ourselves jumping on the latest publishing bandwagon, only to find it’s already overloaded and the wheels are coming off. Take the time to develop the talents and gifts God has given you, and trust Him to open the right doors at the right time.

Kathi Macias - award-winning author & motivational speaker.

The Importance of Brainstorming: Use charts like story webs or story ladders to organize your ideas whether it’s for dialogue, character development, crafting a scene, or building the plot. Some writers sit down with a blank computer screen or piece of paper and wonder why they have writer’s block. But if you start by sitting down to brainstorm and read books on your topic and jot down ideas for the various ingredients in your story, it gives you material to work with when you sit down to actually write.
Nancy Sanders - author & mentor (80+ children's books)

Writing Tips from a Creative Writing Professor: Take no advice that doesn't make sense to you and know what your novel is about(this may change during revisions)--are two lessons I've incorporated into my teaching. There are many mini-lessons: help the reader see the action by picking just the right details; get two people into the story as soon as possible(since much literary fiction is about relationships between characters); minimize flashbacks; minimize adverbs and adjectives; realize that you have three main tools in getting plot and theme: your experience, your observation (of the experience of others); your imagination. When one tool isn't working all that well, try either of the other two.
Clyde Edgerton - writer, instructor, two films.

Writing Time Management: Avoid email, text messages, and instant messages. Turn off the alerts for these inevitable, non-emergency distractions. They can all wait until your writing session is complete. After all, no one ever texts that they’re having a heart attack, or emails that they’ve fallen and they can’t get up!
Anita Paul - author, writing coach.

On Being a Writer: Writers write. They don’t talk about writing, they actually do it. Write every day. Treat it as a job vs. a hobby. Take it seriously and take the time to learn your craft before pushing a book out the door. A commonly held belief is that it takes at least 10,000 hours of work to “master” a creative art. I can assure you I put in twice that many hours before people I didn’t know started reading my books. I believe the time I spent learning my craft is a big reason why my books have done as well as they have. There are no shortcuts, no fast tracks, no get-rich-quick road to glory. It’s a long, hard slog, and it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Marie Force - NY Times Best Seller (sold over 5 million books)

What are the best writing tips you've learned? Share them below. 

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