If there’s a great strategy to improve your writing, it’s certainly learning from the masters. Many great writers often reflect on the art of writing and their own struggle, showing that unique pieces of literature don’t come to life without some serious effort and exercise. Here are some of the greatest writing tips from recognized authors to help you improve your skills and keep you motivated.
“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” – Ernest Hemingway
When setting down to write, don’t question yourself and think whether you can measure up to the best writers the world has ever seen. Writing is personal and unique; your voice might become just as important as theirs. Even writers you consider the best in their craft never reach perfection – the truth is that nobody can fully master this skill.
“To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.” – Allen Ginsberg
It’s no use to worry about how your work will be received and how readers will react to it. Finding your own voice is much easier once you stop worrying about others and start focusing on what you really want to convey.
“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” – George Orwell
Prepare for hard times – even the crème de la crème of writing had to go through this struggle. Nobody said writing is easy, but the possibility of creating a meaningful piece of writing makes it worth the trouble every time.
“Not a wasted word. This has been a main point to my literary thinking all my life.” – Hunter S. Thompson
Use words carefully and don’t embellish your writing just for the sake of it. Be aware of the language you’re using and educate yourself about it.
“I do not over-intellectualize the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story.” – Tom Clancy
This is a vital piece of advice. Even if your style is spotless, the story still matters most. We read books for their narratives and while style is certainly an important feature, it cannot hold a story that doesn’t make sense.
“The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written.” – Joyce Carol Oates
Don’t be afraid of the blank page and start writing immediately. Don’t expect your writing to be exactly what you wanted the first time around. Only after you finish your story, will you be able to write a compelling introduction.
“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.” – Stephen King
Don’t be afraid to get rid of sections of your writing – keep working copies of your work to give yourself the possibility of coming back to it. Your writing will be best when you’re focused on the essentials; if something doesn’t click, be ready to radically revamp it.
“Beware of advice—even this.” – Carl Sandburg
Finally, don’t get caught up in the advice given to you by other people. Listen to them, but don’t take all this as a rule. Writing is personal and strategies that work for some people might get others literally nowhere.
Creative writing isn’t a piece of cake. Assessing it from the perspective of great writers will help you to demythologize it and focus on things that are really important, remembering that every writer deals with their writing process in a completely different way.
Nicole Davies works at ShortCourseFinder, a website providing a simple way to find and sign up for online short courses from Australia’s top providers. She loves contemporary British literature