10 Writing Tips from the Biggest and the Best


We all want to write better. But how? Everyone has a list of writers they admire and some of those have given tips for ‘how to’ get started, keep writing, get finished, get published. Today I thought I would throw a few into the melting pot. Not 10 tips from any one writer, but a selection, some good, some bad, some funny, some silly. But it’s Saturday. Silly is allowed on Saturdays.

  1. Neil Gaiman says Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.
  2. Will Self says ‘Don’t look back until you’ve completed an entire draft.’
  3. Elmore Leonard said using adverbs is a mortal sin.
  4. Margaret Atwood suggests you do back exercises: pain is distracting.
  5. Hilary Mantel says write a book you would like to read.
  6. Stephen King says cut down your text by 10%.
  7. Joanne Harris says do write for pleasure, don’t write for therapy.
  8. Joyce Carol Oates says be your own editor/critic. Sympathetic but ruthless.
  9. P. D. James says we should increase our word power. The greater your vocabulary, the more effective your writing.
  10. Ian Rankin suggests you get lucky and then stay lucky.

That’s it then. 10 great tips to make us better. Hmm. Maybe not enough. I’ve left a list of related articles from which I culled these gems. Might need to visit them and get a few more ideas.

Happy Saturday, Happy Writing!


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11 responses to “10 Writing Tips from the Biggest and the Best

  1. Hilary Mantel says write a book you would like to read.

    I think she should have taken her own advice with Wolf Hall because if she likes to read confusing and bloated texts written entirely in present tense then she’s one of only a few.

    • Haven’t read that – and I’m not at all convinced I like present tense stuff – I’ve tried writing it to see how I feel about it, but can’t make up my mind. I tried reading Fludd and gave up, so I can’t comment on anything of hers.

  2. Thanks for sharing these nuggets of advice. Although number 10 seems to a bit out of reach. 🙂 I think I’ll try it anyway.

  3. Love the idea from Will Self, but I find it hard to get the peace to finish a blog post let alone a draft. But I’m willing to give it a try, although my family may object!

    • ouch! that sure sounds sad. You really need Self and Rankin’s advice in loads! 🙂 Best wishes as you try…

    • Hmm. Family. Might have to start finding places to put them while you write…. gym club, the sports field, the play pen? You do have to be quite selfish to write, I think.

  4. thank you for sharing these amazing suggestions Pat. God bless your sweet generous heart!

    Have a lovely sunday.

    • Thank you very much. You have a lovely Sunday as well.
      Sky very blue here, nice but chilly. Hope the sun is shining on you.

  5. In re: #10 Don’t we all wish we had control over luck such that we could get it & keep it?

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