Advice from the best

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Everyone knows that there are more writers wanting to publish their stories, than there are authors willing to publish them. You could argue that this is a good thing – if every book got published, there wouldn’t be nearly enough people interested in reading each one, and you would have to sift through toppling piles of novels before you found the true gems. At the same time, if you’re an aspiring author it’s difficult not to get disheartened when you have enough rejection letters to paper your whole bedroom with.

If, like me, you belong to this group of people, you might find some use and comfort from the following words of wisdom. They all come from authors who made it onto the other side of the teetering slushpile wall. If anyone has any others, feel free to post!

Ben Dolnick – “Get a kitchen timer. Writers are ingenious at redefining what qualifies as doing work (‘If I just spend this morning cleaning my desk…’). A kitchen timer tolerates no such nonsense. Set yourself a daily writing quota (as little as a half hour is fine at first), set the clock and get to work.”

Cathy Cassidy“Write about what you love, write every day, and remember that overnight success can take decades!”

Neil Gaiman“Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that – but you are the only you.”

John Green – “Whenever I’m asked what advice I have for young writers, I always say that the first thing is to read, and to read a lot. The second thing is to write. And the third thing, which I think is absolutely vital, is to tell stories and listen closely to the stories you’re being told.”

Francesca Simon – “My ideas come from everywhere – newspapers, things people say, films I’ve seen, dreams – you just need to work on listening out for them and writing them down in your ideas notebook which you should ALWAYS have with you.”

Zadie Smith – “Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet.”

Terry Pratchett – “Let grammar, punctuation, and spelling into your life! Even the most energetic and wonderful mess has to be turned into sentences.”

Ernest Hemingway – “The first draft of everything is shit.”

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One thought on “Advice from the best

  1. One of the most difficult things to accept is Ernest Hemingway’s insight. It’s true. The first draft is always shit. Always. And everytime you sit down to write, you feel like you’re just piling it higher and deeper. That’s what every writer has to push through every time they put pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard), a mountain of self doubt.

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