Friday, May 16, 2014

Writing Advice You Should ALWAYS Follow

by Edie Melson

Several months ago I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post about Writing Advice You Should NEVER Follow. Today I want to share writing advice you should always follow. Now, like ninety-nine percent of publishing rules, take these with a grain of salt. Writing is rarely a one-size-fits-all proposition.

1. Keep a regular schedule. Notice a said REGULAR schedule, not normal (and I didn’t say write every day). Your schedule may be writing on the bus everyday to work, or from midnight to 2 a.m. or even only on the weekend. Whatever works best for you, stick with it. Small bites are the best way to devour a huge task.

2. Don’t stop learning. Even if this weren’t an industry that’s ever changing, you’d still need to keep honing your skills. I don’t care who you are, or how long you’ve been writing, you never arrive.

3. Plug into a supportive team. You’ve often heard that writing is a solitary pursuit. Yes…and no. The act of putting words on paper is rarely a team sport. But producing publishable work is not. It takes a good support system to help you cover all the bases.

4. Build your platform BEFORE you get published. Yep, you read that right. So many writers put off building their social media networks until they sign with an agent or a publisher. I’m telling you that’s too late. Start building now and you’ll find yourself more attractive to editors and agents.

5. Don’t let the voices in your head derail your progress. As a whole, we writers are an insecure bunch. And most of our insecurity starts in our minds. We convince ourselves to fail before we even get started good. Who am I fooling, I can’t write. That editor/agent didn’t mean it when he said to send him a proposal. I don’t know why I bother, none of this is any good. Any of these sound familiar?

6. Learn the rules so you know how to break them effectively. Part of developing as a writer is knowing when to break the rules. It’s hard to do if you don’t know them to begin with. For example, you’ll hear the advice to get rid of repeated words. In most cases that’ good advice, but there are instances when you’ll want to repeat a word for emphasis.

7. Don’t EVER talk bad about anyone in the industry. Publishing is a small family, and people move around a lot. An agent at this company today, may be at a different company next year. The person sitting next to you at a conference, could be your editor. You get the idea.

8. Take critique, but don’t let it silence your voice. It’s important to develop a tough skin in this business. That means learning from tough critiques. BUT and this is vital, remember that a critique is just someone’s opinion. If you incorporate every critique into your WIP you’ll lose that distinctive thing called voice. This means sometimes throwing out advice from people you trust, and breaking some rules.

9. Write what you love. It's tempting to try to follow what's popular, but it rarely works out well. Life's short, spend it doing something you love.

10. Don’t quit. I’ve been around this business a long time. I’ve learned that while talent is good, perseverance will get you a whole lot farther. You’re going to have bad days, bad weeks, even bad months, but that’s still no reason to quit.

I’ve given you my best advice. Now I’d like to hear from you. What is the best writing advice you’ve ever gotten?

Don’t forget to join the conversation!




  1. I've read two posts today with advice about not following everything suggested in a critique group and I agree. If we write like everyone else thinks we should, we quickly lose our own voice.


    1. Joan, we absolutely must guard our own voices. Thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

  2. Great tips, Edie. I can't think of anything to add at the moment. Except maybe to make sure priorities with real life are in the right place and priorities with writing life are in the right place. As a mutual friend, Beth Vogt says, Real life trumps writing life. We need to give ourselves grace when writing doesn't happen because real life needs all of us for a time.

    Your thoughts about the voices in my head were spot on. Definitely something I struggle with!

    1. Jeanne, you are so right! Priorities are vital and God's priorities are everything! Thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

  3. Voices, voices, they seem to be everywhere. My inner voice for far too long has told me 'you don't have anything new to share, and your house and other duties are so important...,' yadda, yadda, yadda. The first piece of advice was, 'rewrite', and of course 'show, don't tell, and what has kept me going back and trying was what I believe was heartfelt from one of the reviewers--'you have so much potential, please don't give up'. Good post, Edie.

  4. Great advice and I will certainly save this post! Especially point 5 sounds very familiar.
    The best writing advice I received is to keep a writing diary. To motivate yourself, but also to keep track of ideas. It's good for practicing your writing skills. The author who told me about this is a famous children's books author and he taught me a lot about expressing creativity and how to channel it. I'm actually sharing my diary online. Which can be scary, but it's also a lot of fun.

  5. Found your blog at just the right time. Working on a sequel and have derailed myself several times over the last few months. Thanks for wise, inspirational tips.