The 6 BEST Pieces of Writing Advice

I give you writing tips and advice on the reg.

You hear from me every two weeks, in fact.

But sometimes it's good to change things up.

That’s why today, I gathered six of the best pieces of writing advice from writers and authors who are ~way~ smarter than me. So you can get some insight from someone other than me.

My hope is that these bite-sized pieces of writing wisdom will help you with whatever type of writing it is you’re working on this week.

Let's get to it, shall we?

1. Get through a draft as quickly as possible. Hard to know the shape of the thing until you have a draft. Have the courage to write badly. – Joshua Wolf Shenk

See? I told you that writing ugly was the secret to great writing. If you can get something down (even if it's bad), you've got something to work with. A blank page, however, stays a blank page.

2. Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. -Mark Twain

The same is true for ‘really’. Keep this trick in mind as you do your own self-editing. I'm always tempted to use 'very' and 'pretty' and 'really' and...(really)...they're just fluff.

3. Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that — but you are the only you. -Neil Gaiman

Tell stories that leverage your personal experiences. I said so; Neil said so! We all say so! You're a human, writing for other humans. Humans love stories--and you probably have some good ones to tell. Share them.

4. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time — or the tools — to write. Simple as that. -Stephen King

Reading and writing go hand in hand. Period. You don't even have to read about how to be a better writer--just the mere practice of reading will get you more comfortable with words, phrasing, voice, and cadence. Reading is your writing apprenticeship.

5. Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. -Anton Chekhov

Visual storytelling makes your writing un-boring. Paint pictures with your words and make your readers imagine what you see in your mind's eye when you're telling a story. Show rather than tell.

6. If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. -Elmore Leonard

Write like you speak. People have good senses about BS--they see right through it. Write as if you were telling a story out loud to another person and it will be much more authentic.

P.S. Creative Class, the course on the business side of freelancing I co-teach with my pal Paul Jarvis, is open THIS WEEK ONLY. Get all the details here.

This article originally appeared in my newsletter, A Cup of Copy. Sign up and get these free tips sent right to your inbox every other Wednesday.