On Writing

Want to become a better writer? My three best pieces of writing advice…

1. Write.

That's the best thing I can tell you. If you want to be a writer, you need to write. Make lists, create stories, chart your day, design a poem, and write a song. There are lots of ways to write. Just do it. 

2. Read. 

That's the next best thing I can offer. Reading gives you ideas, helps teach technique, and encourages imagination. Read books, poems, recipes, letters, magazines, or newspapers. The more you read, the more you'll grow. And, it will help your writing.

3. Edit.

That's the last best thing I can say. Practice scratching. Learn to cut your words. It's not easy, but the more you do it, the better you'll get. Read people's work and edit what they've written. Without even realizing, it will help your own writing. Promise. 

If you are interested in publishing, keep writing. Follow submission guidelines exactly and be professional. However, don't focus too much on getting published. It's not as important as you think. Just write. The rest will come when you are ready. 

Listen to your teachers and find more teachers. If possible, find a writing workshop, a library's book club (some even have writing groups), or a community class. It's good to be surrounded by other people who want to write well. Ask people to edit your work and then rewrite. Remember, it's all a process.

The last thing I'll say about writing is this: have fun! It's a great way to use your imagination. Certainly, it can be frustrating and hard at times, but don't give up! Believe in yourself and follow your heart. 

Here are a few helpful books that should stand on any writer's bookshelf.

Elements of Style: William Strunk and E.B. White
Eats, Shoots and Leaves: Lynne Truss
Bird by Bird: Anne Lamott
On Writing: Stephen King
Wired for Story: Lisa Cron

The Art of Fiction: John Gardner
Writing Down the Bones: Natalie Goldberg
On Writing Well: William Zinsser
Story: Robert McKee

Both K.M. Weiland and Donald Maass have fabulous workbooks and books as well.