Being a writer is about experimenting every technique until you finally discover what works for you. What one successful writer follows would not work for another, and vice versa. Some writers advice on developing a strict writing habit while others admit that schedules never work for them. And yet, it’s important to try out all these writing tips in order to polish up your craft.
Here is a list of 07 writing tips from famous authors and, if you’re still unsure about what works for you, you should try them out.
01. “This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. it’s that easy, and that hard.” – Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman, the author who has written many award-winning novels like American Gods, Coraline, Stardust, etc., has one of the simplest pieces of advice to offer: there’s no easier way to start—or end—your novel than to simply sit and keep writing, no matter how busy you are, no matter how many times your brain refuses to cooperate. In the end, regardless of routines and schedules and deadlines, it comes down to how much self-discipline you can cultivate to finish your work on time.
02. “Read, read, read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.” – William Faulkner
William Faulkner, best known for his novels The Sound and the Fury (1929), Sanctuary (1931) and Absalom, Absalom! (1936), was the Nobel Prize winner for Literature in 1949 for his powerful book The Portable Faulkner. According to him, there’s no better way to begin writing than by developing a reading habit. The more books you read, the more content and plot points and character personalities that you absorb, so when you finally sit down to write, you will have at least a half-formed idea in your head, just waiting to be put in paper.
03. “Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet.” – Zadie Smith
An English novelist, essayist and short story writer, Zadie Smith FRSL (Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature) has been a very important voice in literature since her first novel, White Teeth. She says she has a “very messy and chaotic mind”, therefore she takes a break from novel-writing in order to focus on essays, which brings her clarity and organizes her thoughts. She likes to work in a small room with plenty of natural light, and prefers to stay disconnected from the internet until each of her writing sessions are done, to avoid unnecessary distractions.
04. “Write everything—even scenes you’re not going to use.” – Cormac McCarthy
Author of the very famous book, The Road, Cormac McCarthy advises writers to write down all of their thoughts, all the scenes of their story that comes to their mind—even if they don’t intend to use those scenes in their final draft. But writing down everything will improve the skills needed to tell a story in an interesting way.
05. “Treat your writing like a school project and procrastinate.” – Marcus Zusak
The author of one of the most beautifully-written books, The Book Thief, Marcus Zusak believes that you need to spend time thinking before you actually start to write.
“My small theory is that to write for three hours, you need to feel like you have three days. To write for three days, you need to feel like you’ve got three weeks, and so on… Ultimately, though, it’s the feeling in my stomach that’s similar to the night before the school assignment is due … and you haven’t started yet. That’s my preparation.”
06. “Have a pair of second eyes.” – David Huddle
Every writer knows that editing is vital after a draft is completed. But, before you give your draft to a professional editor, having a trusted friend or family member go through your draft and spot out the basic errors. That is what David Hubble, poet, essayist and short story writer, has to say about writing: find yourself a trusted friend to go through your writing.
David Huddle shows his writing to his long-time writer friend, Ghita Orth, because she “has a better sense of what I’m doing than I do, she’s a hard-nosed reader, and I trust her to let me know whether I should let a piece of writing out of the house.”
07. “Keep a running document for future projects.” – Eoin Colfer
The author of the famous Artemis series, featuring a child prodigy, Eoin Colfer writes one book at a time, but he keeps a Word document open on his computer with notes and on-going ideas, with the “hope that my subconscious knits [the notes] together. This actually works sometimes.”
Sharika Hafeez is a nerd, and she’s proud of it. Growing up, she fell in love with books and writing, and is currently following her undergraduate degree (for some mysterious reasons) in Physics. She likes procrastinating by watching the stars with a steaming cup of tea, composing poetry in her head.