Writing Tips from Great Writers

I was looking around for some inspiration for my own writing when I came across these quotes... Hope you enjoy them.  More from me after...

  • "Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very;" your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."  ~Mark Twain 
  • "Drama, instead of telling us the whole of a man's life, must place him in such a situation, tie such a knot, that when it is untied, the whole man is visible."  ~Leo Tolstoy 
  • "No man should ever publish a book until he has first read it to a woman."  ~Van Wyck Brooks 
  • "Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.  One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand."  ~George Orwell, "Why I Write," 1947 
  • "One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you're maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones."~Stephen King 
  • "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." ~Benjamin Franklin 
  • "A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others." ~William Faulkner
  •  "The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty." ~John Steinbeck 
  • "We are nauseated by the sight of trivial personalities decomposing in the eternity of print." ~Virginia Woolf 
  • "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction."  ~Virginia Woolf  (Yes, I know I just did one by her, but I am trying to convince my husband to let me have my own space to write.) 

 Last one, (sort of.)

  • "Writers are the main landmarks of the past." ~Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

There are a lot of great quotes for writers of all sorts.  From the very best writers of Classics to the most recent genre fiction writers, all people have opinions and I think that the best encouragement is the type that lets me know--no artist ever had it easy, and that's especially true when it comes to writers.  I recently read On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King and (I was told) while his earlier book on writing was better, I appreciated this one the most.  Stephen King, think about this man for a moment.  He's a man who's got 37 books under his belt, including 11/22/63 due out this year and he's got an entirety of works in anthologies, his own short fiction collections and screenplay adaptations.  His body of work is  astounding.  

To be honest, his writing is a little scary for me, but I found my own favorite author-now deceased- didn't have the same depth or helpfulness when I address his quotes about writing.  
"If you don't know history, then you don't know anything. You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree." ~Michael Crichton

He also had the worst habit of writing.  He never did it as his sole profession, not entirely, and it took him years and years to publish a single book.  This, this was not what I needed today.  

So, I provided beautiful quotes that do my situation justice I think.  And King, while gruesome, does technically write in the genre I hope to am writing within.  He's charismatic and he's a no-BS, down-to-earth writer who's got some of the most essential suggestions and advice because he's a successful writer living off of his earnings.  I think his answer to the question, "Why do you write what you do," is uplifting enough:

"Why do you assume I have the choice?"


Another Other Rejection...

Yes, I received it in my email box.  I'd emailed an editor of an anthology to find out if I had in fact been passed over and if they could offer me feedback.  It seems my email spam filter carried away the original email sent to me...

What I got in response was amazing!  Sure, it was still a rejection, but it was the most helpful thus far.  It told me the highs and lows of my story and suggested what I work on.  The best part was that the editor insisted I continue to edit it and stick with it, which was just what I needed.  Truly, it was a fantastic letter and I hope that I receive more rejections like that.  I know I will get them, it comes with the career of writing, but I just hope they're as helpful as this editor was.

I think that the best part was that there was someone I don't even know, who has no attachments to me in a personal way saying, yeah... keep writing.  Beacuase let's face it, your mom's either always going to hate it, or always going to love it.  They'll support you however they deem best and sometimes it's just not a clear picture of your true writing skills and as objective as they try to be, there's a deep rooted misunderstanding between parents and their own children... So, it means that their child's creation is usually another thing they just don't get...  Okay, I'm being a little judgemental... but even though my daughter's about to turn only a year old, there are times I look at her and go... "Really?"

Then I see other babies, and I'm not jealous... I just kind of get them.  My baby girl? Not so much, but I think that's the card I've been dealt as a mother.  Our children are meant to rebel against us and I think it'd be worth finding out sociologically whether the push pull relationship between children and parents is a survival thing.  The more children push away, or perhaps run away, the more parents try to draw in.  You see it as soon as children have left the nest, parents are there, not quite sure what to do with themselves.

And for teens, it's the ultimate repulsion... a mother crying over your leaving, trying to hug you and get your shirt wet.  There's nothing that says "hurry, move out now," than a mother who cries all over you when you talk about leaving.  (Please note, I didn't say fawns all over you... because let's face it.  If my mom cooked for me, did my laundry and cleaned around me... I wouldn't leave either.)  Especially boys, a side of the species less apt to dealing with women crying in the first place.

So, from this place of non-objectivity and writing, I now have this faith that I'm not just writing for my family, but writing for me and that perhaps my own opinion on my writing is a fair gauge of how I'm doing. If you've seen American or Canadian Idol, you know what I'm talking about.  Those singers who couldn't hit a note if it were taped on the broad side of a barn within reaching distance; I was scared that was me in the writing world.  A veritable mish-mash of clumsy language and stumbling plots waiting for editors to tell me to shut it down and get on with my real life, while my mother would be there saying, "Those editors are idiots anyways."

Not today.  Today the person who told me my writing, and that short story in particular, was worthwhile was a credible editor of a Canadian Publishing company who gave me smart and compelling suggestions while making me feel honored to know that the field I love so much is one that editors, like this one, exists.

Now that I'm n done my rave, I'm back to the drawing board.