Writing Advice from the Pros
September 29, 2020
Note From Rochelle
We’re having warmer than usual weather here in Milwaukee, which has given me the opportunity to sit on the porch to write. I’m completing revisions on my new book—my first book for children—so I’ve had plenty to work on!
Today’s post collects writing advice from some of my favorite writers.
Writing Advice from the Pros
by Rochelle Melander
Writing advice. Everyone has plenty to give these days.
But here’s the thing: those who write regularly have better advice to give. And I’ve collected some of the best right here.
Read on at your own risk. If reading this article wrecks the calm state of your non-writing life by hauling you out of bed at five every morning to write, well: I don’t want to hear about it. I warned you.
Write to find inspiration
Inspiration usually comes during work rather than before it.
I’d be rich if I had a dollar for every writer who said something like, “I’ve got plans to become a famous author. I’m just waiting to be inspired to write it.” After years of writing, I’ve learned that inspiration really does come during the writing practice.
Pro Tip: Schedule time to write. Put it in your calendar and commit to show up.
Take small steps
When asked, “How do you write?” I invariably answer, “one word at a time.”
You don’t need to spend ten hours a day crouched in front of your laptop, toiling away at your book. There may be days like that—but you’ll get much more done if you choose to write for a short amount of time. (Check out my article on taking small steps.)
Stop in the middle
If you can’t think of what to write, tough luck; write anyway. If you can think of lots more when you’ve finished the three pages, don’t write it; it’ll be that much easier to get going next day.
It’s so satisfying to write through to the end of a section. Don’t! Save some of that writing energy (and content) for the next day. Stop at a cliffhanger and you’ll be able to start much more easily tomorrow.
The key to a great book is editing — grinding, buffing, and polishing — not writing.
Professional writers rewrite. They take a look at their precious words and their favorite phrases, and they slash the ones that don’t work. If you want to write better, remember that the first draft is only the beginning.
Write your truth
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.
Many of us worry about what others will think or say about our work. We don’t want to offend the people we know—our family, friends, and colleagues.
If you’re going to write anything worth reading, you need to write what you know to be true. Lots of people can write but no one else brings your particular set of experience, education, and imagination. Stop worrying and write what you want to read.
The magic is in you
Just remember that Dumbo didn’t need the feather; the magic was in him.
It’s tempting to believe that if we had the right thing—the right connections, software, ideas, or training—we’d be successful. Stop. You have the magic you need to write—and it’s within you. Let it out.