Blog Archives

13 Pieces of Advice for Writers

A couple of blogs ago, we asked, “Why do writers write?”. During our search for the answer, we accumulated other bits of wisdom from authors past and present. Here’s a sampling of  advice that falls under the “how-to-write” category.

1. There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. ~Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith

2. I try to leave out the parts that people skip. ~Elmore Leonard

3. Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very;” your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain

4. Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

5. The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. ~Mark Twain

6. Be obscure clearly. ~E.B. White

7. …a writer is working when he’s staring out of the window. ~Burton Rascoe

8. The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes. ~Agatha Christie

9. Write your first draft with your heart. Re-write with your head. ~From the movie Finding Forrester

10. The best style is the style you don’t notice. ~Somerset Maugham

11. I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter. ~James Michener

12. Don’t get it right, just get it written. ~James Thurber

13. There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. ~W. Somerset Maugham

Why Do Writers Write? 16 Reasons.

We often get asked, “Why do you write?” The question seems simple but the answer isn’t. It made us curious about what other authors had to say on the subject.

1. Writing is a way of talking without being interrupted. ~Jules Renard

2. Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. ~E.L. Doctorow

3. Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning: I wanted to know what I was going to say. ~Sharon O’Brien

4. If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad. ~Lord Byron

5. The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone’s neurosis, and we’d have a mighty dull literature if all the writers that came along were a bunch of happy chuckleheads. ~William Styron

6. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. ~George Orwell

7. Books want to be born: I never make them. They come to me and insist on being written, and on being such and such. ~Samuel Butler

8. I want to write books that unlock the traffic jam in everybody’s head. ~John Updike

9. I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. ~Joan Didion

10. My stories run up and bite me on the leg-I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go and runs off. ~Ray Bradbury

11. Writing is one of the few professions in which you can psychoanalyse yourself, get rid of hostilities and frustrations in public, and get paid for it. ~Octavia Butler

12. Writing is the supreme solace. ~W. Somerset Maugham

13. Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation. ~Graham Greene

14. The easy answer is that writing novels is a lot more fun than practicing law. ~
Jeffery Deaver

15. The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can’t help it. ~Leo Rosten

16. Why do writers write? Because it isn’t there. ~Thomas Berger

If anyone knows the answer to this age old question, let us know.

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