10 Great Writing Tips, in Quotes

typeEveryone’s looking for the “rules” of getting published. I try to share some wisdom on my blog, but who am I kidding? There are no rules. However, here are some guidelines (in quote form!) for aspiring writers…

10 Great Writing Tips, in Quotes:

1. What works for other writers doesn’t have to work for you. It’s okay to make your own rules. And, what works for other writers often won’t work for you so it’s best not to compare your writing or your style to anyone else.

“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle” — Jon Acuff

2. You don’t have to write every day. In fact, it’s perfectly okay to avoid burn out and take a day off. It doesn’t mean you’re not a writer.

“Hard scheduling rules — write every day! work on research for one hour each morning! exercise 10 hours a week! — deployed in isolation will lead to procrastination as soon as you start to violate them, which you almost certainly will do.” — Cal Newport

3. You have to make writing a priority, though. Even if it’s not everyday…

“I could not have written a novel if I hadn’t been a journalist first, because it taught me that there’s no muse that’s going to come down and bestow upon you the mood to write. You just have to do it. I’m definitely not precious.” — Gillian Flynn

4. Perfectionism doesn’t exist. There will never be a perfect first draft. Or any draft for that matter.

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.” — Anne Lamott

5. In order to commercially succeed your writing has to be meaningful for others, not just yourself.

“When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored.” — Anne Lamott

6. You don’t need a complete outline in order to get started. You might not be a ‘plotter’ or a ‘pantser.’ All you need is the ambition to start.

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” — E.L. Doctorow

7. Know why you write. That will get you through the days you won’t want start.

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.” — Stephen King

8. The best way to hone your writing chops is to read. There is no better teacher or better research, just read.

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.” — Samuel Johnson

9. Your stories are all around you. You are living your ideas. You just need to open your mind and grab a notebook.

“Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.” — Orson Scott Card

10. You are the only one holding yourself back from writing your breakout novel.

“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” — Les Brown

Published by Carly Watters

Carly Watters is a SVP, senior literary agent and director of literary branding with the P.S. Literary Agency. She is a hands-on agent that develops proposals and manuscripts with attention to detail and the relevant markets. PSLA’s mission is to manage authors’ literary brands for their entire career. Never without a book on hand she reads across categories which is reflected in the genres she represents and is actively seeking new authors in including women’s fiction, commercial and upmarket fiction, select literary fiction, platform-driven non fiction and select memoir. She occasionally represents children's book projects. Carly is drawn to emotional, well-paced narratives, with a great voice and characters that readers can get invested in.

22 thoughts on “10 Great Writing Tips, in Quotes

  1. Wonderful advice!

    The one epiphany I had, luckily, shortly after I started writing fiction is that the writer must enjoy her work. Otherwise, her reluctance and dissatisfaction will reach the reader through her prose.


  2. Great post. This reminds me a lot of my guitar teacher. He was rough but still managed to instill in us that passion was only 10% (or less) of success and that success was not necessarily measured by physical means. The rest is being persistent.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These are great quotes. A lot of your introductions to these quotes are just as instructional. Thank you.

    I often talk about the fact that there is more than one way to be a writer, and more than one (or two, or three) ways to be a successful author. Writers need the courage to find their own way.

    As for writing every day, I recently blogged about that. I think understanding the value of discipline and daily writing will help us know when we truly need a break to recharge or prevent burn out.

    Thanks again for a unique collection of quotes.


  4. Aah…my heart sings anytime someone says, “Go form your own rules” ;) I have had so little of this advice in my life! LOL Usually it is, “Do what I say” :P


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