May 9, 2011

The Advice We Get From Authors

What I’ve noticed in the past was that authors typically gave similar answers when asked:

What advice would you give to an aspiring novelist?

So I decided to make a list of advice from different authors. Some of them come directly from my author interviews, and others may come from their websites. Although the advice is along the same lines I feel as though they each helped me in a different way. They reminded me that even though these are accomplished published writers that they had to take the same vigorous steps we’re taking in order to get where they are. And who better to get advice from than the people who made it to publication themselves?

1. Read everyday and read widely. 2. Write some fiction everyday, even if all you can do is a paragraph 3. Understand that not all criticism is valid or even well-intentioned, but the good stuff is gold for you.
—Daniel Waters, Author of Generation Dead

Finish that book, of course. And just keep writing.
—Julie Kagawa, Author of the Iron Fey series

Write every day, even if it’s only for half an hour. Don’t outline too much, don’t think too much. Just start writing and keep writing. Eventually, if you have talent, your own voice will emerge.

Writing involves hard work more than genius. Writing is rewriting. Of course, it’s true: we all read these articles about a person who sits and writes their first book and it sells ten million copies. But in the real world that doesn’t happen too often. And usually those authors who succeed too soon never learn to write. My books were rejected for seven years before I got published, and I consider myself lucky.
—Christopher Pike, Author of Thirst

I’ve found that writing is a two-part process: learning the craft, and finding the story you are meant to write. You can learn the craft by reading and writing, taking classes, going to conferences, meeting writer friends. You can find the story by living. And don’t waste time beating yourself up for bad writing! It’s all a part of the process.
—Holly Cupala, Author of Tell Me A Secret

The best advice I can offer is to read, as much and as widely as possible. The more you read, the stronger your writing will be. And also try to carve out time every day, or as close to it as possible, for writing. Sitting down and staring at the blank page or empty screen takes discipline.
—Lisa Ann Sandell, Author of Song of the Sparrow

 I’ve been asked that question a lot. I’ve always found it very difficult to answer. I feel there’s an expectation that I should know what the magical formula was, but in truth I wrote what I liked reading.
 I wrote about characters I was deeply interested in.
—J. K Rowling, Author of Harry Potter

 If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware off, no shortcut.
— Stephen King, Author of On Writing

I say, Write what makes you happy. Write what makes you want to write more. Write to please yourself first, because you may be the only audience you have for years and years. Listen to what other people tell you, because there may be something in what they say that's useful, but learn also to trust in your own instincts about your writing.

Write the kind of thing you like to read. Try different kinds of writing, because each new form helps you to see your writing--and what you want to do with it--differently. So far I've written: stage plays, radio plays, screenplays (none that were made into movies, though), poetry (bad poetry!), articles, movie reviews, stories for women's magazines, all kinds of other short stories, articles about computer games. I've also worked as an editor, copyeditor and proofreader, which has been very useful. Helping other people sort out their mistakes teaches you how to avoid some of them yourself.
—Tamora Pierce, Author of Bloodhound

Be disciplined. Write every day, at the same time. Train your brain that you need to work then, and you'll always be aware when you're not writing and should be. Read as much as you can, because that's really the only way to learn besides just writing itself.
—Sarah Dessen, Author of The Truth About Forever

I think there are two things I would advise for someone who wants to be a writer. The first is to keep reading—not just vampire books, but any and all books that even slightly catch their interest. Reading will open the world to you.

And, second, write a little something every day. It can be as simple as a long text con-versation (but remember that when you’re sending in your first book, grammar counts!) or writing in a diary, or blog, or scribbling down an idea for a story. But the absolute best training is to try to write stories in a normal conversational style, to keep a blog that you update frequently, to write fanfic, or to write poetry (if you want to be a poet—or even if you don’t.)
—L. J. Smith, Author of the Vampire Diaries Series


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