Writing Advice I Like

Being an author is a solitary pursuit, even with Facebook and Twitter and whatever other social media you use. In order to succeed, you have to step away from your news feed and focus on the world behind your eyes.

I find I’m always looking for ways to connect with other writers, not only because they share my experience, but because I need to feel like I’m part of a community. One thing my fellow word nerds do, quite often, is ask for advice on how to tackle a writing problem that is deviling them.

Of course, you can’t take every piece of advice to heart. So much of what people say is contradictory that you’d never get anything done if you tried to apply it all. When it comes to writing advice I take what I like and discard the rest. Here are a few nuggets of writing wisdom that I like:

  1. Be Ambitious: Too often I feel like I take the easy road. I swim in the baby pool. I need to stop placing limits on myself and start pushing my own boundaries.
  2. If you have to choose between complicating the action or taking the easy route in a plot, (almost) ALWAYS choose to complicate.
  3. Stop being afraid and just write: I think this echoes with number one.
  4. Write what you love, not what you think everyone else wants you to write.
  5. Write it as well as you possibly can the first time.
  6. Don’t be trapped by your preconceptions about a story. The outline is your friend if it helps you write; it’s your enemy if it keeps you from writing.
  7. Love your characters, then make them suffer.
  8. Finish what you start. The new idea may be all sexy and appealing, and that’s exciting. Make a note and persevere with your current project.
  9. Be nice. Seriously. Be nice to other people. You might think writing is all about the words, but it’s not. It’s all about people. I write because I love telling stories to other people. I love entertaining and, as an introvert, this is the best way I can do it.
  10. Stop messing around and write!
  11. Keep your creative well full. You can’t keep drawing good ideas out if you don’t pour good ones in. Read books you love, watch TV shows and movies that excite you and make your imagination fire. Go for walks. Play with your kids.
  12. Write your ideas down when you have them. You can’t remember them all and you’ll be sad if you lose them. But,
  13. Ideas are cheap. Everybody has great ideas all the time. Sometimes people have ideas that are very similar. The magic is in the execution. It’s in how YOU tell the story. Don’t fret about whether or not some other guy has had a similar idea.
  14. Don’t steal other people’s ideas. Don’t be that guy. There’s nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from someone, just don’t copy them word-for-word.

What nuggets of writing advice do you like?

3 thoughts on “Writing Advice I Like

  1. “What nuggets of writing advice do you like?”

    Honestly, you hit on all of the ones I dispense. You also added a few more bits of advice I appreciate very much. At this point, however, my top piece of advice to writers is, “Don’t quit your daydream job.” Writing is a labor of love, not a guaranteed path to riches. Accepting that writing is an art form, with all of the joys and suffering art has to offer, is probably the greatest gift a writer can give him- or herself.

    Thank you for this list, Angela. I also enjoyed your humorous take on all of your writing advice. If it’s not fun to write (even when writing scrapes at one’s soul), then writing isn’t for that person.

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