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Monday, February 28, 2011

Best Writing Advice

You guys are seriously smart. Last Wednesday, when I asked you for the best writing advice you learned the hard way, you seriously impressed me. (No, I’m not saying I had low expectations of you. Just, um, lower.)

Anyway, after the first couple comments made me start taking notes, I decided it’d be greedy of me to keep the tips all to myself. Also, I always have your best interest in mind. (So when I tell you that buying a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card and sending it to me is in your best interest, TRUST ME.)

Behold the genius of my readers:

I learned that during revisions if I’m feeling like I hate my story and it’ll never be any good, it’s because I’ve found the problem. And it may be overwhelming, but that means I can fix it. —Holly

I’ve learned that in order to be a successful writer you have to apply the feedback that makes your manuscript stronger. Don’t revise to please other people. —Amie

Tenacity is the most important thing you need if you want to get published. I’ve written four books, had two agents, and held my breath through way too many “close sales.” Writing a fifth book after all that takes more tenacity than I expected to need. —Jennifer Hoffine

The best thing to do after you finish your first book is... to write another book. Oy! So necessary though. —Sarah Enni

I’m learning slowly but surely to take every bit of criticism, feedback or comment and us it in any way I can - keeping in mind the source of course. —Lindsay

Good question. Probably that you’re not ready until you’re ready. There are no shortcuts in publishing, so it’s better to accept the slow pace/path and enjoy the time given to you to grow. —Rebecca

“The best thing to do after you finish your first book is... to write another book,” is fantastic advice, and some of the best I’ve ever gotten. Also, if a part of your manuscript is borning to write or revise, it will probably be boring for readers too. You're doing something wrong. Fix it, or cut it out. —Katy Upperman

We can all research and Twitter-stalk our hearts out, yes? But writing is the core, the heart; it’s what this industry is based on, non? For me, maybe: writing a book is great, but it’s only when the written product is fantastically stellar does the book matter. —Yahong Chi

I learned to never, never rush a story out! Early on I got that advice from a mentor and I ignored it, to bad results. Now, I revise a novel many times, and run it by a trusted reader before I even think about sending it out. —Catherine Stine

I learned it’s never good to compare your writing journey to someone else’s. Doing that will just aggravate. —Alicia Gregoire

The best thing I’ve learned...the only thing that gets in my way is me. —Becky Wallace

I guess ‘know your characters before you start writing’ has worked for me. I try to make sure I know my characters’ number one goal/motivation in life. This includes minor characters as well, since they sometimes become major players. This helps me cut down on revision time, because it helps me avoid writing flat characters. —Natasha Hanova

You should trust your gut in all instances but one. Whenever you hear yourself saying, “I suck at writing. I'm a failure. I should quit. I'll never, ever make it,” DON’T LISTEN. This is not true. If you love writing, keep writing. But by all means, when you hear, “this chapter sucks,” or “this character is lame,” or “this ending is a let-down”... follow those gut reactions. Thoughts like that usually mean you need to revise, refine and polish. So get to it! —Erin Bowman

No matter how excited I am about a particular manuscript, I need to resist the urge to send it out until I’ve given myself ample time away from it. Time opens my eyes to even the littlest of errors—and of course the big ones too! —Kelly Hashway

I agree with Alicia! Never compare. I love the quote, “The race is long, and in the end, it is only with your self.” —Abby

I think the best “hard learned lesson” I’ve had (so far!) is to back up *EVERYTHING* and keep really, really good notes. It’s a practical thing rather than creative, but I once deleted a huge chunk of a story and subsequently realised I needed it. I hadn’t backed it up, so it was gone and without notes I couldn't remember it well enough to rewrite what I’d lost. Lesson learned! —Miss Cole

I learned the hard way that pacing is crucial. I cut a lot of words to make that happen. And I probably could’ve cut more. I’m still not great with pacing. —Elana Johnson

I learned the hard way not to write a 175K YA novel. Athough I really enjoyed writing it! PS – it’s now 100K. —Alisonmiller20

I am STILL learning, painfully, to give the whole process time. Patience, virtues, all that. I get it. —Alexs Gunderson

That no rejection or critique or comment is the end of the world. —Kathleen Peacock

Adverbs are a menace. —Kat Owens

Manuscript Format—nuff said. — Howlynmartin

One that I learned, is that if you can’t take the critique, you can’t take the correction that will make your story better. If you can’t take correction, how on earth will you be able to take rejection? You know? — Katrina DeLallo

Listen to your gut. (And have a beta reader who calls you on it when you try to half-ass it.) —Kate

This was a hard one: even though you are prepared for it, and you know it's going to happen, rejection stings worse than your daddy’s belt on your backside. It will make you want to quit. But you have to soldier on. —Sarah Nicolas

Uh, I have lots of these tips. The first of which is the one you listed. But also, I’ve learned the hard way to start a story where it actually starts. As in, needing to cut a story in half because it just dragged on and on in the beginning. It’s painful to spend a month working on something only to end up cutting it in the end. So, you know, lesson learned. Eventually. But the main lesson? No more pantsing. That's just asking for pain. —Carolina Valdez Miller

For me so far is that my thinking has been very linear. You start writing the story at the beginning and then move through each chapter to the end.  I realized for me anyway that isn’t how it is going.  I write about a character and then I might right about the mural on the wall that is on the side of the building. Then about the family that owns the building.  It is coming together in pieces.  I will eventually have enough pieces where I will weave it together and create a story out of it.  I realize I am not entirely in charge of this process I need to go with the flow. —Charon


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