Writers Write is your one-stop writing resource. In this post, 15 authors talk about the best writing advice they received.
15 Authors On The Best Writing Advice They Received
- Alice Kahn: The best writing advice I’ve ever heard: Don’t write like you went to college.
- Andrei Codrescu: Best advice I ever got was from the Romanian poet Nichita Stanescu, who told me in Bucharest, before I emigrated: ‘Learn English. French is dead.’
- Christopher Buckley: The best advice on writing I’ve ever received was from William Zinsser: ‘Be grateful for every word you can cut.’
- Cynthia Ozick: The best advice on writing I’ve ever received is: Write with authority.
- David Guterson: The best advice on writing I’ve ever received is to take it seriously, because to do it well is all-consuming.
- George Plimpton: I think the best advice on writing I’ve received was from John Steinbeck, who suggested that one way to get around writer’s block (which I was suffering hideously at the time) was to pretend to be writing to an aunt, or a girlfriend. I did this, writing to an actress friend I knew, Jean Seberg. The editors of Harpers forgot to take off the salutation and that’s how the article begins in the magazine: Dear Jean….
- James Atlas: The best advice on writing I’ve ever received was from Dwight Macdonald: ‘Everything about the same subject in the same place.’
- Margaret Carlson: Best writing advice I’ve ever received: Sell everything three times.
- Nick Tosches: The best advice on writing I’ve ever received was given to me, like so much else, by Hubert Selby, Jr.: to learn and to know that writing is not an act of the self, except perhaps as exorcism; that, in writing what is worth being written, one serves, as vessel and voice, a power greater than vessel and voice.
- Patsy Garlan: The best advice on writing I’ve ever received is: Don’t answer the phone.
- Peter Mayle: Best advice on writing I’ve ever received: Finish.
- Richard Ford: The best advice on writing I’ve ever received: ‘Don’t have children.’ I gave it to myself.
- Robert Lipsyte: The best advice on writing I’ve ever received was, ‘Rewrite it!’ A lot of editors said that. They were all right. Writing is really rewriting—making the story better, clearer, truer.
- Russell Banks: The best advice on writing I’ve ever received was probably something Ted Solotaroff told me years ago when he was my editor. Going over a manuscript line by line again and again he kept reminding me, ‘Remember, this is your book, not my book. You’re the one who’s going to have to live with it the rest of your life. I might publish 30 or 40 books this year, you’re only going to publish one, and probably the only one you’re going to publish in two or three years.’
- Whitney Balliett: The best advice on writing I’ve ever received is, ‘Knock ‘em dead with that lead sentence.’
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