A Collection Of Writing Advice And Encouragement

A Collection Of Writing Advice And Encouragement

Wise snippets from your favorite writers regarding the intense, back-breaking and immensely rewarding practice that is writing.


I want to be a writer. And chances are if you're opening this article, there's a part of you (maybe big, maybe small), that wants to be too.

To be honest, I guess I'm not quite using the term right. I am a writer, I am writing this to you right now, and I have written many articles, essays, and stories in the past. And if you've written before, or are writing now, you are a writer as well.

However, there are so many more things about writing I need to know. And there are so many holes I've entered where I felt like I could never write something worth reading. And there are times when I need reassurance that yes, I can be a writer. Not just someone who writes when asked, but someone who writes when there's nothing else I'd rather be doing.

For situations such as this, I like to turn to advise I've collected, either through online browsing, YouTube interviews, or in-person meetings, from various authors around the world and through the ages. Here is a collection of some of my favorite tips, tricks, and words of encouragement I've been fortunate to hear or read.

1. Q: "I want to be an author when I grow up. Am I insane?"     

A: "Yes, growing up is highly overrated. Just be an author."-Neil Gaiman

2. "Write short stories. They'll teach you how to craft a beginning, middle, and end."-Lamar Giles

3. "You don't write because you want to say something. You write because you have something to say." -F. Scott Fitzgerald

4. "It is perfectly ok to write garbage-as long as you edit brilliantly." -C. J. Cherryh

5. "Write screenplays. They teach you how to properly use dialogue to convey meaning." -Ashley Woodfolk

6. *On his books/topics getting constantly banned from schools* 

"That isn't a reason to stop writing them, it is obviously a reason to keep writing them." -David Levithan

7. "First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!" -Ray Bradbury

8.  "My first rule was given to me by TH White, author of The Sword in the Stone and other Arthurian fantasies

Read. Read everything you can lay hands on. I always advise people who want to write a fantasy or science fiction or romance to stop reading everything in those genres and start reading everything else from Bunyan to Byatt."-Michael Moorcock

9. "We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect." -Anais Nin

10. "The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice. Your mind. Your story. Your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can. "-Neil Gaiman

11. "You can always edit a bad page. You can't edit a blank page." -Jodi Picoult

12. "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." -Anton Chekhov

13. "Between my finger and my thumb/The squat pen rests./I’ll dig with it." -Seamus Heaney

14. "Writing begins with forgiveness. Let go of the shame about how long it's been since you last wrote, the clenching fear that you're not a good enough writer, the doubts over whether or not you can get it done." -Daniel Jose Older

15. "The first draft of anything is s**t." -Ernest Hemingway

16. "I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I'm afraid of." -Joss Whedon

17. "Every experience shapes your writing, being stuck in a car on a lonely bridge, or dancing at a prom, being the it girl on the beach, all of these things influence your life, they influence how you write, and the topics you choose to write about." -Maya Angelou

18. "A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” -Richard Bach

19. "Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. Never use a long word where a short one will do. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. Never use the passive when you can use the active. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous." -George Orwell

20. *on writing scenes with music in novels* "Don't write your characters just listening to music, write them FEELING the music. Take each of the senses and describe how the music effects that particular sense, like the feel of the vibrations or the mental "place" the sounds take you." -Ashley Woodfolk

21.“If something inside of 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. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act—truth is always subversive.” -Anne Lamott

22. "If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet; then you MUST write it." -Toni Morrison

23. "There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." -Somerset Maugham

24. "You learn to write the same way you learn to play golf...You do it, and keep doing it until you get it right. A lot of people think something mystical happens to you, that maybe the muse kissed you on the ear. But writing isn't divinely inspired-it's hard work." -Tom Clancy

25. "Write the kind of story you would like to read. People will give you all sorts of advice about writing, but if you are not writing something you like, no one else will like it either." -Mag Cabot

26. "Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer." -Barbara Kingsolver

27. "The hardest part is believing in yourself at the notebook stage. It is like believing in dreams in the morning." -Erica Jong

28. "Eavesdrop a lot and take notes. It's a way to begin to think about how the world around you is made of stories." -David Handler

29. "You must write for yourself and not what you think people want to read." -Jodi Ellen Malpas

30. "Sometimes you have to get your writing done in spare moments here and there." -JK Rowling

31. "Write about the emotions you fear the most." -Laurie Halse Anderson

32. “The adverb is not your friend. Consider the sentence “He closed the door firmly.” It’s by no means a terrible sentence, but ask yourself if ‘firmly’ really has to be there. What about context? What about all the enlightening (not to say emotionally moving) prose which came before ‘He closed the door firmly’? Shouldn’t this tell us how he closed the door? And if the foregoing prose does tell us, then isn’t ‘firmly’ an extra word? Isn’t it redundant?” -Stephen King

33. “Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes. The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story… to make him/her forget, whenever possible, that he/she is reading a story at all." -Stephen King

34. "In the planning stage of a book, don't plan the ending. It has to be earned by all that will go before it." -Rose Tremain

35. "The reader is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator." -Jonathan Franzen

36. “Don't let yourself slip and get any perfect characters... keep them people, people, people, and don't let them get to be symbols.” -Ernest Hemingway

37. “Writing starts with living." -L.L. Barkat

38. "One of the biggest, possibly THE biggest, obstacle to becoming a writer...is learning to live with the fact that the wonderful story in your head is infinitely better, truer, more moving, more fascinating, more perceptive, than anything you're going to manage to get down on paper. So you have to learn to live with fact that you're never going to write well enough. Of course that's what keeps you trying-trying as hard as you can-which is a good thing." -Robin McKinley

39. "I think new writers are too worried that it has all been said before. Sure it has, but not by you." -Asha Dornfest

40. "Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up." -Jane Yolen

41. "The most solid advice I can give to a writer is this I think: try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really try to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough." -Ernest Hemingway

42. "My advice would be: Don't listen to any advice you hear, just do what works for you." -Nisha Sharma

Now go write!

Popular Right Now

I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.


Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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The Cliche 'Follow Your Heart' Is Probably The Most Important Cliche Of All Time

Our heart or our brain? What should we listen to first?


In life, we are constantly faced with tough decisions concerning relationships, college, career, marriage … the list of decisions we must make in a lifetime is endless. This means, however, that there are plenty of moments in our life where we will put into question our very own intuition, where we will waste time going back and forth between our mind and our soul. So then we ask ourselves when faced with a decision, what do we listen to? What should we listen to? Our brain or our heart?

Yeah, okay so following your heart is probably the most cliche thing you've ever heard. Our younger selves constantly heard the saying all the time growing up. Did we act on it? Maybe, but not in the ways that we should be acting on it now. Give it a chance and just think about it for a second.

I've realized that as you get older, it becomes harder to just listen to yourself. There are distractions all around you. Some come from the comments of your peers, some come from the devices in your hands, some come from the news headlines you see in bold. With this, you find yourself struggling to find a balance between thinking about something and just doing it. You find yourself unable to decipher what exactly you should listen to. You suddenly become lost within your own little world.

Who would you be if you didn't follow your heart? Would your life be completely different than it is now?

If we think about how we got to the place we're at today, we simultaneously also think about those decisions I mentioned earlier. And those decisions were probably mostly made from our own intuition, not from logistical thinking. The sad part is we don't even realize this, and we don't even realize how important this is.

How did you choose a college? Deciding where you're going to spend the next four years of your life, working towards a career is a big deal. Some will describe their decision as a feeling they got when they stepped on campus. Yes, the tuition was a factor along with retention rates and undergraduate programs and study abroad opportunities, but the one factor that truly mattered was how they felt so at home, while in reality being so far away from their hometown. So, this decision was made from a feeling, this decision was made from the heart.

Relationships. When deciding to tell someone you love them, you're following your heart. When deciding to commit to someone in a relationship or in a friendship or whatever it may be, you're following your heart. You're putting everything on the line because of how you feel. Nothing else matters. Just the two of you, together, happy and in love. And because of that, because of the magnitude of that one feeling, you listen to your heart first and figure out everything else later. Now, being able to have that, being able to experience this type of love, well that's just one of the best feelings in the world.

We can even consider a career. When trying to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life, you are looking for that feeling, for that career to find you. You are searching for that inevitable inclination telling you, you're meant to do something in this world. You dream big imagining yourself doing this one job that you feel so passionately about, changing the world and inspiring others to do the same. You are motivated by this one field so much that you decide to do it for the rest of your life. If that's not following your heart, then I don't know what is.

It seems so obvious. We hear "follow your heart" all the time. But do we ever actually realize how much impact a heart can have on one's life? No. And that's why it's maybe not so obvious. Because we're told to follow our hearts, but we never actually take the time to comprehend it. And so, we live our lives letting this concept of intuition before cognition become underrated. We let it secretly impact some of our most important life decisions without even ever realizing it.

So realize it. From now on don't just listen. Act. Follow your heart as much as you can and never look back.

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