Sunday, January 2, 2011

What’s Your Best Writing Advice?

Back when I was a starry-eyed unpub, I thought published authors possessed magic fairy dust. If only they’d sprinkle it over my manuscript, I would magically join their ranks on the bookstore shelves.

Now if you’re as green a writer as I was, you’re probably thinking, “Where can I get me some of that fairy dust!?!?”

But if you’re published (or very close) you already know there’s no such thing.

Anyhoo, in my clueless newbie days I screwed up the courage to ask a multi-published friend to read over my manuscript.

As a former editor for both True Confessions and Guidepost magazines, and writing her own books for Avalon, Kensington, Awe-Struck, New Concepts and Midnight Showcase, I figured Connie Keenan/Consuelo Vazquez had fairy dust to spare.

However, Connie gave me something better than magic.

“Sure, I’ll read it,” she said, “but it doesn’t matter what I think. The only opinions that count are yours and the editor who buys it.”

I’ve received plenty of awesome writing advice, but that simple statement stands out as the most memorable.

No, I didn’t send my manuscript to Connie. Instead, I went with my own gut. I still do. And so far, I have no regrets.

Sooooo, tell me… what’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?


G said...

A bit cliched, but the best advice I've gotten was, "practice, practice, practice."

Which is why I still blog some 2 1/2 years later. I practice my writing, show it to the world, get great tips and critique, and continue practicing.

Someday I'll be a published somebody somewhere, but until then, I'll keep chugging along practicing my writing until it becomes a natural extension of who I am.

Liane Spicer said...

Crikes, Phyllis. I've read great advice from so many authors that it's hard to narrow it down. Let me see...

Whoever said 'kill your darlings' made an indelible impression on me. It's like when I started playing chess and my tutor told me every single move should be part of my strategy for winning the game. No random moves permitted. It's the same with writing: if something doesn't move the story forward, take it out.

Phyllis Bourne said...

@G and @Liane Spicer, it was hard narrowing it down to one piece of advice. I kept thinking what about...?

But Connie's advice always stands out in my head.

@G - I started my first blog after I sold. I decided to make it a blog about a topic I loved instead of about writing.

Like you, it taught me a lot because it helped me find my voice and my own style.

@Liane - Sigh. I still have trouble killing my darlings, even though I know it best for the story.

Ohhhh, I love the chess strategy advice.

Happy New Year, y'all!

Tom said...

"Show, don't tell." It's something I still struggle with. But now that I know what that means, I am better about doing it.

Phyllis Bourne said...

@Tom - That's a tough one! I thought I had it down, until my editor returned a manuscript with "SHOW DON'T TELL" written all over it.

Charles Gramlich said...

Probably, "butt in chair, hands on keyboard."

Phyllis Bourne said...

@Charles Gramlich - my dh always says, "You don't have a writing problem. You have a sitting problem."

KeVin K. said...

"Mail the damn thing."

Jewel Amethyst said...

The Nike commercial: Just Do it!

Anonymous said...

Someone I never had the privilege to meet said: "Writers, write!"