The Page a Day Writers Group

The Best Writing Advice Ever

Posted on: September 13, 2011

If you’re like me, you’re looking for words of advice–any kernel of wisdom to help you transform 250 pages of prose into a published novel.

Writing a book is a long journey and the trek isn’t for the weak of heart. E.L. Doctorow likened it to “driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” I see it more as trudging through the darkness with only a flashlight to illuminate the way — and your batteries are low.

Along our writing path, we stop and talk to other writers. Ask their opinion, question their methods and delve into what system works for them. We read the pages of published authors, hoping to uncover a secret or two. We’re learning, bit-by-bit, how to persevere. Not to give up the quest. And maybe, hopefully, some day be published.

During my journey, I’ve uncovered a few nuggets — manna for my writing soul . . . some more useful than others:

“Read. Read. Read.”

“Minimize the back story. Less is more.”

“Use active verbs.”

“Limit exclamation points!!!!”

“Put your butt in the chair.”

“Show, don’t tell.”

“Make sure you back-up your work on an external drive.”

“Get real familiar with story structure: Set-up, Response, Attack, Resolution”

“Up the stakes for your protagonist.”

“Stick to one POV.”

“You need more POVs.”

Obviously, I add to this list regularly.

This week, my shout-out for “the best writing advice I’ve ever received” goes to Anne Lamott. Her book, “Bird by Bird” is jam-packed with worthwhile, real-world information, advice and guidance she has shared with her students. For nearly two decades, writers have eagerly dipped their spoons into this book and scooped tasty tidbits of enlightenment designed to keep them at the keyboard. Among Lamott’s most famous advice is permission to write that “shitty first draft.”

The gem I’ve mined from her book is: “…sit down at approximately the same time every day. This is how you train your unconscious to kick in for you creatively.”

I’ve put her concept into practice and within a few weeks, my writing has improved, not just in quantity, but in quality. Amazing how showing up for work actually works. Thanks Anne.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received .. at least up to this week?

–Claire Yezbak Fadden

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1 Response to "The Best Writing Advice Ever"

Thanks for the advice and pulling out a few gems! I WILL be applying some of those ideas.

“Put your butt in the chair.” – is my personal favorite

Good luck with your writing.
~ Patrick

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Who are we?

The Page a Day Writers Group is a diverse collection of wonderful writers based in San Diego, CA. We've been meeting monthly since 2004. Our primary function is in-depth writing critique, marketing and brainstorming, but there's usually some wine, chocolate and ribaldry involved too. We write fantasy, humor, literary fiction, nonfiction, romance, thrillers and YA. Join us on our journeys to publication and the wonderland beyond!

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