8 Critical Writing Advice from Famous Authors
Every writer has a weapon of choice, and that includes you. Perhaps it’s a laptop perched on your desk. Maybe it’s a vintage typewriter that brings you inspiration. Or even the classic pen-and-paper you can’t go without. No matter your choice, writing is never a simple process. The same goes for famous authors out there that you might look up to. The difference between you and them is that they have more experience under their belt.
According to a study conducted at Sussex University, reading can reduce stress levels by 68%. However, writing is a different story. Stress will find you before you start writing your first word. More often than not, you will be tempted to throw every word you wrote out the window and start over. But before you decide to do that for the tenth time, or get discouraged from writing what could be the next Pride and Prejudice, read through these eight pieces of writing advice from famous authors. Above all else, Rome was not built in a day, and neither will your writing skills.
1. Make Your Readers Believe in Your Story
“Make people believe in your story first and foremost.”—Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Collins English dictionary defines a story as “a description of imaginary people and events, which is written or told in order to entertain.” It is as simple and as complicated as that. Fortunately, writing advice from famous authors tells you that you need to pique your reader’s interest by making them believe the story you are telling. Once your readers believe your words, you have them hooked. Though, to be on the safe side, make sure you clarify what is a work of fiction and what is non-fiction. Fabrication of true events is no joke!
2. Write Every day
“You have to write every day, and you have to write whether you feel like it or not.”—Khaled Hosseini
Procrastination is a hard habit to break. Most of us prefer to let future versions of ourselves deal with things rather than have our present versions do them. While that can work with buying groceries or seeing your friend who just got back from a yoga retreat, you should not apply this thought process to writing. Writing should be a part of your daily routine, whether it is only twenty minutes or six hours. By immersing yourself in a daily writing routine, you will strengthen your writing skills and improve with each passing day. You will also provide a daily creative outlet for your brain that constantly needs to be exercised just like any other muscle. So, even if you don’t feel the least bit like writing, head over to your writing corner and get cracking. Don’t be that guy and who puts it off.
3. Find the Right Time
“Pick the hours that work best for you.” —Leo Tolstoy
One of the most popular pieces of writing advice from famous authors is to write every day without exception. But what authors don’t tell you is that there are certain hours of the day you should write in. You do not require a strict schedule to adhere to since every writer has different preferences. If you prefer writing at dawn or in the middle of the night, go for it. The writing environment you set for yourself will influence your work quality and encourage you to write more. So do whatever works for you.
4. Don’t Go Overboard
“Never use a long word where a short one will do.” —George Orwell
As much as using fancy words look sophisticated, it could just confuse your readers. You would not want them to be in the middle of a gripping plot and reach for their dictionary in order to understand the picture you are trying to paint for them. As George Orwell, a man known for his complicated plots (the irony is pretty obvious), states that you do not have to make your writing complicated. Stick to the basics, and your reader will appreciate the easy flow of your writing.
5. Don’t Dumb Down Your Writing
“Trust your reader. Not everything needs to be explained. If you really know something, and breathe life into it, they’ll know it too.” —Esther Freud
Understandably, you would want your point to come across exactly how you imagine it. But according to Esther Freud, you do not have to dictate it word for word. When you are writing, do not assume that your readers will completely miss the point you’re trying to make. Readers will follow through with your imagination if you describe it delicately enough. You should skip the parts you would not appreciate reading in a book yourself, looking through your writing as both the creator and the audience.
6. Focus on One Thing at a Time
“Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.” —Henry Miller
You can be writing in a journal or a novel you have been thinking of writing for five years. Either way, only concentrate on what you are working on right now. By focusing on what you are currently working on, you will not be discouraged. There’s no room to think of the different possibilities of the future or the what-ifs. It is fairly common for you to get lost in another plot and find yourself distracted while your main goal is gathering dust in the corner. Prioritize what you want to write and forget everything else.
7. Read More
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time — or the tools — to write. Simple as that.” —Stephen King
One of the key skills you will need as a writer is to be a reader. A reader is at the receiving end of the picture you are trying to create. The only way to understand a reader is to be one. As you make time to keep a daily writing routine, you will need to create a designated reading schedule too! Don’t fret, you will not be required to drown in a library of books for days on end. A simple chapter or two will do to keep your creative juices flowing.
Stephen King has successfully written at least eighty-five books, so he probably knows what he is talking about.
8. Keep Writing
“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard, and you put one word after another until it’s done. It is that easy, and that hard.” —Neil Gaiman
The last piece of advice that you need to keep in mind is you just have to keep writing. Neil Gaiman is a renowned novelist, comic book creator, screenplay writer, and blogger who revolutionized the modern gothic genre. His first series “Sandman” was the first comic book to win a literary award. However, we cannot all be Neil Gaiman. Some of us are human too. Despite that fact, all you should do is sit down and write. Whether you have writer’s block or you’ve been struck by inspiration, all you have to do is write.
What Comes Next?
Once you’ve accomplished everything there is to the writing process, the next step is to publish your writing. In a way, publishing your work might be just as stressful as actually writing it. However, the same advice still applies. You need to persevere and trust that your writing is good enough to be read by others. Once you trust yourself and your readers, you will need to trust your writing skill and credibility.
Writing is difficult, but you can do it. As long as you push one foot in front of the other, metaphorically speaking, you will finish your first and then your last draft. These eight pieces of writing advice from famous authors should be a constant reminder of what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong.
Understandably it is scary to put yourself out there, even if you are the only person who will read your work. However, put away that fear and remember that if you like what you wrote, you are bound to find someone who likes it as well. As a writer, all you need to do is write, write, and write some more! You should also pick up a book or two, just like Stephen King said.