The great part about being an aspiring writer is that advice and inspiration are never too far away. Writing is an art as old as time, and over the centuries those who call themselves “writers” have taken to philosophising on the nature of the craft and leaving words of wisdom for those who follow.
From tackling issues like writer’s block to plotting and planning self-promotion, the writers below have drawn on their own experiences to pass along these tips to the rest of us.
1) Oscar Wilde on Being Unpredictable
“Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.”
2) Katherine Howe on Beating Writer’s Block
“I was taught ‘If you don’t know what to write about, write about the fact that you don’t know what to write about.’ I use that trick all the time. All. The. Time. “
3) Ernest Hemingway on Maintaining Momentum
“The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day when you are writing a novel you will never be stuck.”
4) Erica Jong on Believing Your Ideas
“The hardest part is believing in yourself at the notebook stage. It is like believing in dreams in the morning.”
5) Carol Goodman on Active Reading
“Read like a writer. Begin to look at the books you’re reading for the lessons they can teach you. How does your favorite author introduce new characters, handle time jumps, slip in exposition?”
6) Truman Capote on Editing
“I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.”
7) Rose Tremain on Authentic Endings
“In the planning stage of a book, don’t plan the ending. It has to be earned by all that will go before it.”
8) Seth Godin on Self-Promotion
“The best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out. Three years to build a reputation, build a permission asset, build a blog, build a following, build credibility and build the connections you’ll need later.”
9) Elmore Leonard on Sounding Natural
“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”
10) Anaïs Nin on Going Big
“Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.”
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