No matter what, learning from great authors is always a plus. So let’s see what some of the literary elite have to say to young writers … Thanks, Alyce!
1) Read, read again and then read some more
Genius authors are often thoughtful and attentive readers. Reading helps you enrich your own experience by seeing how other great writers put their thoughts on paper. You can barely become a good writer if you read one book a year.
Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.
Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window. – William Faulkner
2) Never edit your piece right after you finish it
There should always be some time between you finish your writing and make any edits. In some time you will see it in different, more objective angle.
3) Write, even if you don’t have any ideas
Write about whatever. Follow the principle “I write what I see”. Write a poem about a subway station you are in. When you write down a meal recipe use different literary expressions and metaphors to make it more interesting. Thus, you master your skill and have a chance to get inspiration from unexpected things.
Long patience and application saturated with your heart’s blood—you will either write or you will not—and the only way to find out whether you will or not is to try. — Jim Tully
4) Write with the warm heart, edit with the cold mind
Always have something with you for writing whether it is a laptop, a notebook or a simple piece of paper. Write when you feel inspiration. When it’s gone, you can thoroughly evaluate your writing and see whether it is worth something.
I would advise any beginning writer to write the first drafts as if no one else will ever read them—without a thought about publication—and only in the last draft to consider how the work will look from the outside. — Anne Tyler
5) Sitting, standing or lying
Write in the position you feel comfortable in. Truman Capote, George Orwell, Mark Twain and James Joyce preferred working in the horizontal position. Truman Capote once said in his interview:
“I am a completely horizontal author. I can’t think unless I’m lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I’ve got to be puffing and sipping”.
6) Know how your story ends before you begin it
It is important for you to think your whole story through before you start writing it. Many writers make a mistake of writing without thinking about the end. As a result, we have an interesting beginning and a very lousy and forced ending.
“The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written.” – Joyce Carol Oates
7) Let yourself make mistakes
Trying to create a superb text, you may write ten, twenty or hundred bad ones. It is normal and it’s definitely not the reason to get desperate. Learning what’s bad, you also learn what’s good. Bad experiences also have a great value.
We learn from failure, not from success! – Bram Stoker
8) Don’t tell, but show
Many starting writers have a habit of overloading their texts with descriptions of situations, objects, and people. The thing here is to learn not to simply describe things, but to draw a picture with words; a picture that readers will momentarily have in their minds when they read your piece.
Don’t tell me that the moon is shining, show me the reflection of moonlight on a broken glass – Anton Chekhov
9) Be simple and sincere
Don’t try to show how rich your vocabulary is every time you can. Don’t seek difficult definitions for simple things. Write as if you do it for your friends and you want them to understand you.
Make yourself a solemn promise right now that you’ll never use ‘emolument’ when you mean ‘tip’ and you’ll never say John stopped long enough to perform an act of excretion when you mean John stopped long enough to take a shit. If you believe ‘take a shit’ would be considered offensive or inappropriate by your audience, feel free to say John stopped long enough to move his bowels (or perhaps John stopped long enough to push). I’m not trying to get you to talk dirty, only plain and direct. – Stephen King
10) Live life to the fullest
If you always sit at home and complain about lack of inspiration, it is not surprising when you ask for the tips to beat writer’s block. The walls, objects and views from your windows that you see every day will barely inspire you out of the sudden. You need to do something, go somewhere, and meet someone. Good imagination is a great thing, but it is still important to get your own experience.
“Be in love with your life.” – Jack Kerouac
11) Choose your time
You need to know in what time of day or night you write the best. When is it easier for you to write? What hours are the most productive? There are “morning” people and the “night” ones; “Monday” people and “Friday” people. Follow your own biorhythm, have enough sleep and work when you work best. Sylvia Plath, Ernest Hemingway and Kurt Vonnegut preferred writing early in the morning. Onore de Balzac woke up in the middle of the night to write. Find your own productive time.
Sometimes your personal experience can be more incredible than any fiction; you only need to present it in the right way. Describing the things you saw with your own eyes, you make your voice stand out. Look for these stories in your memory and create something unusual.
13) Don’t try to follow “rules”
Writing is not the exact science. You don’t have to have any specific structure and follow any specific rules. Of course, there should be some logical connections, but other than that, you are free to create your own masterpiece by your own rules.
“There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.” – Doris Lessing
14) Consider writing your priority
Naturally, many writers cannot just sit and write a whole day long. They have to earn a living for themselves. However, if you are truly determined to make it as a writer, always see it as you main work. Consider paying jobs as something temporary and unimportant.
“When I say work, I only mean writing. Everything else is just odd jobs.” – Margaret Laurence
Hopefully, some of these quotes have inspired you to create masterpieces or at least to try. Good luck, future Pulitzer winners!
BIO: Alyce Fabel is an inspired blog writer and private tutor working primary with educational issues and writing techniques. She loves writing and enjoys helping students to become creative and proficient writers. She’s also a former journalist, dreaming of publishing great American novel. See more of her articles and stay tuned via twitter!