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.

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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!

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To The Girl Who Isn't Graduating On Time, It Won't Feel Any Less Amazing When You Do

Graduating is something to be proud of no matter how long it takes you.

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To the girl who isn't graduating college "on time,"

I promise, you will get there eventually, and you will walk across that graduation stage with the biggest smile on your face.

You may have a different journey than the people you grew up with, and that is OKAY. You may have some twists and turns along the way, a few too many major changes, a life change, you may have taken most of a semester off to try to figure your life out, and you're doing the best you can.

Your family and your friends don't think less of you or your accomplishments, they are proud of your determination to get your degree.

They are proud of the woman you are becoming. They don't think of you as a failure or as someone any less awesome than you are. You're getting your degree, you're making moves towards your dreams and the life that you have always wanted, so please stop beating yourself up while you see people graduating college on time and getting a job or buying a car.

Your time will come, you just keep doing what you need to do in order to get on that graduation stage.

Your path is set out for you, and you will get there with time but also with patience. The place you're at right now is where you are supposed to be. You are going to thrive and you are going to be the best version of you when you graduate and start looking for a company that you will be proud to work for. Don't look on social media and feel less than, because at least you're still working towards your degree that you are finally passionate about. You will be prepared. You will be ready once the time comes and you cross the stage, move away, and start your journey in whatever field you're going into.

Don't question yourself, and be confident in your abilities.

With love,

A girl who isn't graduating on time

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I'm Not The Person I Was In High School And I'm Not Sorry I Changed

I'm sorry, the old me can't come to the phone right now.

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If those who knew me in high school hung out with me now, they probably wouldn't recognize me. If my friends from college hung out with me around two years ago, they probably wouldn't recognize me. It's safe to say I've changed... a lot. I definitely find the change to be for the better and I couldn't be happier with the person I've become.

In high school, I would sit at home every night anxiously waiting to leave and go out. Now, honestly, going out is the last thing I want to do any night of the week. While everyone in college is at a fraternity party or at the bars, I prefer to sit at home on the couch, watching Netflix with my boyfriend. That's an ideal night for me and it is exactly the opposite of what I wanted to do a couple of years ago. There's nothing wrong with going out and partying, it's just not what I want to do anymore.

I craved attention in high school. I went to the parties and outings so I could be in Snapchats and photos, just so people would know I was there. I hung out with certain groups of people just so I could say I was "friends" with so-and-so who was so very popular. I wanted to be known and I wanted to be cool.

Now, I couldn't care less. I go to the bars or the parties if I really feel like it or if my friends make me feel bad enough for never going anywhere that I finally decide to show up. It's just not my scene anymore and I no longer worry about missing out.

If you could look back at me during my junior year of high school, you probably would've found me searching for the best-ranked party schools and colleges with the best nearby clubs or bars. Now, you can find me eating snacks on the couch on a Friday night watching the parties through other peoples' Snapchats.

Some may say that I'm boring now, and while I agree that my life is a little less adventurous now than it was in high school, I don't regret the lifestyle changes I've made. I feel happier, I feel like a better person, I feel much more complete. I'm not sorry that I've changed since high school and I'm not sorry that I'm not living the typical "college lifestyle." I don't see anything wrong with that life, it's just not what makes me happy and it's not what I want to do anymore.

I've become a different person since high school and I couldn't be happier about it. I have a lot that's contributed to the change, but my boyfriend definitely was the main factor as he showed me that staying in can be a million times better than a night out. My interests and my social cravings have completely transitioned into that of an 80-year-old grandma, but I don't regret it.

Change doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, it can bring a lot more happiness and comfort. The transition from high school to college is drastic, but you can also use it as an opportunity to transition from one lifestyle to another. I don't regret the lifestyle flip I made and I couldn't be less apologetic about it.

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