On Writing

Writing QuotesWriting

“You might not write well every day, but you can edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” Jodi Picoult

“You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what is burning inside you, and we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.” Arthur Polotnik

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Anton Chekhov

“I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.” Pearl S. Buck

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” Robert Frost

“The secret to editing is simple: you need to become its reader instead of its writer.” Zadie Smith

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.” Stephen King

“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader. Not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.” E. L. Doctorow

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” Pablo Picasso

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” Maya Angelou

My Five Writing Tips

Writing isn’t about moods.

“I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.” Pearl S. Buck

If you wait for the perfect time to write, for inspiration to hit you just right, to be in the mood to write, you will never get around to writing anything. Writing isn’t some magical experience where you just sit down and the perfect words spill out. It’s hard work, a long trudge through the mud and rain, with an occasional glimpse of the sun through the clouds.

Don’t tell the reader–show it to them!

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Anton Chekhov

Good writing makes a reader think and feel, but if you tell them something instead of showing them, you leave out the most important part of the equation: their imagination. Their imagination fills in the missing pieces. It makes it all feel real. You feed the imagination when you show instead of tell.

A writer reads.

“If you want to be a writer you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Stephen King

Like a musician, a painter, a scientist, or an engineer studies the works of the masters of their craft in order to grow themselves, so a writer grows by reading. Start paying attention to what you specifically like about your favorite books. Is it the characters? Is it the writing style? Is it the plot? Take what you like—and what you don’t like—about other writer’s stories and apply that knowledge to your own stories.

You have to finish what you started!

If you only write until you’re bored with the story you’re working on, you’re never going to get anywhere as a writer. It is only after finishing a story, and beginning to edit it, that you begin to find your voice as a writer.

Write!

“You might not write well every day, but you can edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” Jodi Picoult

This seems like the most obvious piece of writing advice in the world, but it is the single most important piece of advice I could ever give. A writer writes. You aren’t going to grow as a writer if you don’t sit down every day and write. You have to make it a priority in your life. So get a timer and write for thirty minutes today…and tomorrow…and the next day…and the next. Make it a habit.

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