Writer’s block is no joke, and the path to publishing is a long and sometimes bumpy road. Take comfort in knowing that many bestselling writers were once in your shoes and can share their wisdom based on their experience for your benefit.
Jane Yolen, author of The Devil’s Arithmetic
“I always listen to critiques, but never take them in whole. Early on I learned to read the readers. Everyone reads a different story than you put down. They read it with their own baggage in tow. Even good readers, even the greatest, even editors, especially critics. So take what you need from their advice, twist it to your own needs, move on. In the end, it’s the story that will tell you what to do but you have to listen.”
“Try to get into the habit of writing every day. Freewrite to exercise your story muscles (write whatever comes to mind without filtering and without judging). Take creative writing workshops and get feedback from other writers in your classes.
Read a lot of books that interest you. Write the stories that interest you regardless of what kind of stories your teacher or classmates prefer. If they love literary slice-of-life vignettes but you love epic adventures, write epic adventures. You’ll find your true audience later.”
Joseph Delaney, author of Revenge of the Witch
“Keep a notebook and write down all your ideas (don’t edit your ideas but record everything), read widely, observe the world around you, persevere, develop a thick skin and make sure you write as much as you can.”
Tami Hoag, author of Ashes to Ashes
“Write something you love, and learn as much about the business side of being a writer as you can before you try to publish. It’s not enough to write a good book. You need to know where it will fit in the marketplace, what publishers you should target, and so on. If you want to be a professional you have to learn about the profession. And lastly: be resilient, adaptable, and determined. This is a tough business.”
Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
“My advice would be to be smart about how you’re targeting the people you are querying and to do your research ahead of time. There are strict rules about a query letter. Read up on them, seek out agents who represent the work you write (looking up the agents of writers you are similar to is a good start), and be confident about your work.”
Shayla Black, author of Wicked Ties
“This may sound simple, but you should approach writing a love story (or any story, really) from the heart. Get to know your characters and their conflicts well, figure out what’s keeping them apart, how they need to grow as individuals and as a couple to live happily ever after, then discern what events must transpire for them to start the process of changing and melding together. If you know them well enough to answer those questions and you’re listening to them as you write, making those transitions that slowly reveal the emotional growth in the story will be as natural as breathing.”
Paul Tremblay, author of Head Full of Ghosts
“I think write-you-know is a bad, awful advice. It should be write-to-know or write-to-want-to-know. Anything you write is going to have pieces of you in there, regardless. You don’t have to work at that. You (the general you) will never grow as a writer if you’re not willing to take on story ideas or characters who different from you and your experience. The best fiction comes from that challenge. Most of the stuff I write is me trying to learn about the people in the situations I put them in. I want to know what they will do, what decisions they will make and why. Starting from a place of empathy (not sympathy); I want to understand.”
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