Thursday, June 24, 2010

Writing Advice

I love reading articles about writing advice, especially when that advice comes from other writers, and lately I've come across a flurry of great advice online. So I thought I'd share a few of the articles and blog posts that I've read and enjoyed lately:

"Be Stubborn" by Lilith Saintcrow

"Time Management" by Maggie Stiefvater

"Things I Cannot Change" by Sara Zarr

"Time Lost and Found" by Anne Lamott

"Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: Speed" by Dean Wesley Smith

"What Do I Wish I'd Known" by Gregory Frost

"Real Life Writing" by Michelle Zink

"Hurry Up and Wait" by Melissa de la Cruz

"On Love and Writing" by Billy Coffey

And here's my two cents... I received an email the other day from a reader who wanted to know how to start writing a book. Here's my response:

Excellent question... For me, the trick to starting any writing project is a bit like the trick to starting a swimming session. If you build it up to be a big deal (telling yourself that the water will be cold or that you’re a lousy diver or that you hate having water in your ears), then you’ll discover that it’s very hard to get yourself into that pool. But if you tell yourself that all you have to do is stick your feet in and if you feel like going further, great, and if not, that’s fine too, then you stand a much better chance of actually swimming (and also enjoying yourself).

In other words, don’t wait until you have the perfect day or the perfect story or the perfect inspiration. Just sit down and write some sentences about one of your ideas. Next day, write a little more. It’s okay if it isn’t good at first. It’s okay if you end up abandoning the story and switching to something else. The key is to write every day whether you feel like it or not, whether you love the story or not. That’s the way to become a writer: by writing.

Good luck! And have a great summer filled with lots of words!

Happy writing!



At 2:08 AM, Anonymous kj said...

I recently started documenting my ramblings in a blog as a means to boost my creativity. My daily posts are mostly upbeat since my life is currently sans drama and pretty fulfilling. About a week ago, though, I posted a dark and depressing short story (Domestic Violence topic), which ended up shocking some of my readers. The comments weren't pretty. Can you suggest a way that I can blend the happy ramblings with the dark, depressing fiction to form one somewhat cohesive blog, or is there a standing blog rule that all posts must be happy?

At 3:22 AM, Blogger Laura said...

Thankyou for all of those links Sarah, i spent my (long) morning reading them all.

My favorites were: Time Managment and Time Lost and Found.

They both offer great points in my writing. "Stick with it." and "Do what you love."

Laura x

At 11:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

COOL! I'm always looking for great writing advice, and this definitely helped. Thanks so much!

At 11:13 PM, Blogger Michelle Zink said...

Thanks for linking to my post, Sarah. That was very nice of you!


At 11:57 PM, Blogger Sarah Beth Durst said...

KJ: Reader expectation is a powerful force. But I think you still can have both happiness and darkness in your blog. Now that you've broken spades by having one dark story, I bet that people will be less shocked if you choose to post another.

One thought (okay, two thoughts)... Maybe you could start your darker blog posts with a warning or disclaimer or explanation? Or you could title/brand them in a different way to differentiate them from your happy posts?

Laura: Glad you enjoyed the links! "Stick with it" and "do what you love" are probably the two best bits of writing advice out there.

Anonymous: You're welcome. I love when other authors talk about writing. Everyone's experience/process/journey is so different.

Michelle: My pleasure. Thanks for the great post! I particularly love the line: "There is ALWAYS a way to make time for the things you love."

At 5:58 PM, Blogger Lauren said...

@kj: Wow, that sounds like a good idea, putting your stories on a blog! I never thought a whole lot about that before. Sounds like a good tool for feedback (and humility).

At 12:26 PM, Blogger Don Lafferty said...

Thanks for pointing your friends toward the Liars Club spot, Sarah. We're doing our best to provide the kind of useful advice we wished we'd been able to find when we were just getting started.

We're always looking for new topics so please feel free to make a suggestion.


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