Learn from the experts is excellent advice and when it comes to famous writers their advice abounds. I have compiled a small collection of such advice that’s most useful to me. Please free to read the quotes and share any additional expert advice you find useful in comments at the end of the post.
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.” ― Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
“The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.” – Neil Gaiman’s 8 Rules of Writing
“People who think well, write well. Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.” – 10 Tips on Writing from David Ogilvy
“Work of section in hand, following plan of section scrupulously. No intrusions, no diversions. Write to finish one section at a time, for good and all.” – Henry Miller’s 11 Commandments of Writing & Daily Creative Routine
“Use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English–it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in.” – Mark Twain
“Paragraphs are almost always as important for how they look as for what they say; they are maps of intent.” – Stephen King
“Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.” – Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Tips on How to Write a Great Story
“Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style. I am not urging you to write a novel, by the way — although I would not be sorry if you wrote one, provided you genuinely cared about something. A petition to the mayor about a pothole in front of your house or a love letter to the girl next door will do.” – Kurt Vonnegut
“Two kinds of writers. Those who think this life is all there is, and want to describe everything: the fall, the battle, the accouchement, the horse-race. That is, Tolstoy. And those who think this life is a kind of testing-ground (for what we don’t know — to see how much pleasure + pain we can bear or what pleasure + pain are?) and want to describe only the essentials. That is, Dostoyevsky. The two alternatives. How can one write like T. after D.? The task is to be as good as D. — as serious spiritually, + then go on from there.” – Susan Sontag on Writing
“If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.” – Hilary Mantel
“One that works for me every time is to focus on the positive intention behind my writing. What is it that I want to communicate, express, convey? By focusing on that, by getting into the state that I’m trying to express, I find that I stop worrying about the words – just let them tumble out of their own accord.
It’s a great strategy for beating writer’s block, or overcoming anxiety about a particular piece of writing, whether that’s composing a formal business letter, writing a piece from the heart, or guest blogging somewhere ‘big’…” – Joanna Young
“There’s a sureness to good writing even when what’s being written about doesn’t make all that much sense. It’s the sureness of the so-called seat of an accomplished horseback rider or a sailor coming about in a strong wind. The words have both muscle and grace, familiarity and surprise.” – Anne Bernays
“If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that makes a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story.” – Six Tips on Writing from John Steinbeck
“Both running and writing are highly addictive activities; both are, for me, inextricably bound up with consciousness. I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t running, and I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t writing.” – Joyce Carol Oates
“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” – Stephen King
Time flies and making enough time to blog is not always easy as I blog only as a hobby. I am a contracted writer who prefers to do most of my paid writing in the morning and editing at the end of the day. I schedule my writing time in advance, work on a computer that’s has no internet connection, set my intention and I write.
Sometimes what I write gets published and sometimes it doesn’t. But I know from experience that writing begets writing and in my case writing is connected to a pay check, so my only rule is write almost every day. In addition, I schedule time to blog twice weekly but I do allow myself to take time off when I need to. How about you?
- Create a writing schedule and stick to it.
- Take some time to decide what you want each post to accomplish and who your audience is.
- Focus on clarity and brevity.
- Don’t be afraid to use power words. “You”, “your”, “yours” create a direct connection between you, the blogger and your readers. By using them you can encourage reader feedback.
- Create an effective title that tells readers what to expect, and place a keyword or keyword phrase as close to the start of the title as possible.
- Use your opening to provide general information and context.
- Use a structure that delivers the message in as few words as possible.
- Conclude by summarizing and inviting questions.