Currently, I’m reworking a story I wrote about four years ago. It is quite an interesting process because I can see where I came from and where I am now, as far as craft. This exercise is also reminding me about all the advice I’ve been given about writing. I thought I’d give you a list of 7 pieces of advice I’ve learned about writing, some with quotes included. I hope they help you as they are helping me.
1. Every scene, action, sentence, word must have a purpose. If it doesn’t, it must be cut, no matter how beautiful or genius it is.
2. Write the first draft with your heart and the second draft with your head.
3. Be disciplined to write on a consistent schedule.
4. Don’t wait for “the muse” to show up. Jack London said, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
5. Feel what you are writing. Be passionate about it. Robert Frost said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
6. Read a lot! William Faulkner said, “Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”
7. Cut down on the exclamation points. F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.” I’m still working on this one.
What about you?
What is the greatest advice you’ve received about writing?