Best Writing Advice From Industry Experts

How I wish I had known what I know now as a teenager!

At the age of 19, I worked full-time for a daily newspaper as a sportswriter.

I enjoyed my job, but I wanted to see if I could pitch a story to the features editor.

I put a lot of effort into it on my own time and submitted it with images.

I was heartbroken by the editor’s response.

He’d written in red pencil at the top of the first page:

“Wonderful photos.

“This is a bad story.”

I forced myself to approach his desk, humiliated.

“Sir, could you just explain to me what’s wrong with this so I can fix it?” I asked.

He said, “Sure, Jenkins.”

“It’s a piece of sh—.”

I staggered back to my boss, the sports editor, and informed her of the situation.

She asked, “Did you have any reservations about the piece?”

I noted a few areas where I could have done a better job.

“There you have it.

“Anything you feel you should have done is exactly what you should have done.”

That night, I reworked the piece and resubmitted it the next day.

It was quickly accepted by the features editor.

What went wrong?

I was well aware that I had submitted a piece of writing that was not up to par.

I promised myself that I would never do anything like that again.

I asked 39 of the top authors, writing coaches, and publishing professionals I know the following questions in the hopes of being able to tell my younger self what I know now:

What would you tell yourself if you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice at the start of your writing career?

To make it 40, I added one of my own writing tips.

40 Writing Tips From the Pros

Readers are captivated by stories.

Create a reading habit that corresponds to what you want to write and publish.

Always keep learning in mind.

Begin building your email list as soon as possible.

The true significance of writing is found in the words that flow freely from your fingertips.

I write a lot and receive some feedback every now and then.

When it comes to writing, the journey is more important than the destination.

Publish your work (even if it’s not great) on the internet.

Please take your time.

The best writing is written with the reader in mind, not with the writer in mind.

Make writing time a priority.

Dream big, but do it small.

Make it a habit to write every day.

Make spiritual practices a priority.

Dive right in and feel terrified later.

Be modest.

Take the advice of others.

Be willing to learn.

Slow down and hone your skills.

Patience is required.

Developing your craft takes time.

Don’t let your introversion get in the way of your success.

Have faith in yourself.

Pay closer attention to the small things.

Read as much writing in your genre as you can.

It’s not about you in your writing career.

Experts aren’t always correct about what’s best.

No such thing as an instant book exists.

This is not something you should try on your own.

Follow your heart’s desire.

There has never been any great art created without a big heart.

Make a connection with potential readers.

Saying “yes” isn’t anything to be terrified of.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to follow a predetermined writer’s path.

The importance of the story always outweighs the importance of the framework.

Write for the love of writing, not for the money it might bring you.

The importance of discipline cannot be overstated.

Every day, write.

It’s not about you in your writing.

Don’t put it off.

Write about something you’re passionate about.

As soon as possible, find and build your tribe.

Become a ruthless editor of your own work.

1. Lisa Cron, author of Wired for Story

What draws readers isn’t exquisite writing, a rip-roaring storyline, or surface drama; what grabs readers is the tale itself, which gives those things their meaning and power.

As a result, you must first develop the story, which does not begin on page one but rather far earlier.

Because the story isn’t about a plot-level shift on the outside.

The narrative is about an internal adjustment that the protagonist already needs to make when he enters the story.

As a result, the protagonist enters the story with a long-standing driving ambition—an agenda—that she hasn’t been able to fulfill because of an equally long-standing misbelief (about human nature).

Finally, here’s something I wish I’d known: the backstory is the story’s most essential, present, and meaningful foundation.

“The past isn’t dead,” Faulkner stated.

It hasn’t even happened yet. ”

2. Jane Friedman, a writer and blogger who specializes in writing and publishing,

Create a reading habit that closely resembles what you want to write and publish.

Make it as important as anything else on your to-do list, and never let your hectic schedule keep you from doing good.

It’s fine not to finish books or to give up on writers you don’t like, but you should never quit reading the genre in which you want to establish a reputation.

It improves your writerly intelligence and, as a result, sets the groundwork for improved literary citizenship and networking with other authors, editors, and agents.

In this sector, a non-reader is quickly exposed and left behind.

3. The Write Practice’s founder, Joe Bunting

Always keep learning in mind.

You consider yourself to be quite gifted.

You consider yourself quite intelligent.

And you are one of them.

However, spending all of your time showing you know what you’re doing rather than learning from the people and resources around you is the best way to fail as a writer.

Stop putting on a show.

Begin by practicing.

Also, have a good time.

Dave Chesson, the creator of Kindlepreneur

Begin building your email list as soon as possible.

I didn’t have an email list for a couple of years, and I can’t help but wonder how many thousands of readers I missed out on because I didn’t start sooner.

Sending a new book launch email to your existing, passionate readers is the best way to jumpstart your book marketing.

They’ll buy it and give those all-important reviews.

So, if you want to write more than one book, getting your email list up and running as soon as possible is critical to increasing your success with each book you write.

5. Bridget McNulty, now Novel’s co-founder

It’s thrilling to be published, but that isn’t the objective of writing.

The daily thrill of sitting down at a blank page and making something beautiful, humorous, heartwrenching, or even plain blah is what it’s all about (depending on the day).

While having a book (or articles, or stories) published is a nice ego boost, the true meaning of writing comes from the words that flow from your fingertips and the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a job.

6. Novelist and inventor of the Snowflake Method of planning, Randy Ingermanson,

Following these three basic steps will help you improve your writing skills.

1) Make it a habit to write frequently.

The more you write, the more you’ll recognize your own unique voice and improve.

2) Receive feedback on a regular basis.

You should never believe anything your mother says about your writing, or anything anyone who loves you says about your writing, since they are all liars.

You should only listen to people who understand what good writing is and how to analyze bad writing.

Many people who know how to write well don’t know how to analyze lousy writing, so they won’t be able to assist you.

Keep in mind that many people who know how to analyze bad writing would struggle to recognize good writing if it was thrust in their face.

This is unfortunate, but it must be dealt with.

You’re looking for someone who possesses both of these abilities, which is a rare find.

You need to be reminded when and why your writing is bad, because when you first start writing, your work will be terrible and you will think it’s amazing.

You also need to be told when your writing is good, because by the time your writing is good, you’ll have been told so many times that it’s horrible that you’ll believe you’re the worst writer ever.

All lousy authors believe they are fantastic, and all great writers believe they are dreadful.

That’s why you need to be criticized now and again.

This isn’t something you should do every day.

It is extremely painful.

A little constructive criticism goes a long way.

3) Read books, go to lectures, and learn everything you can about the writing craft.

This is especially important when you’ve been criticized.

You’re not going to be able to figure it out on your own.

Find a book that explains in plain English how to correct what you’re doing incorrectly.

When you’ve finished the book, you’ll have regained enough confidence in yourself to return to Step 1 and write some more.

Also, have a good time!

Do you need assistance with polishing your writing?

To get my FREE self-editing checklist, go here.

K.M. Weiland is a novelist and writing coach.

I’d like my younger self to understand that while publishing is amazing, it isn’t the objective of the writing process.

It’s only a pit stop on the way to somewhere else.

When it comes to writing, the journey is more important than the destination.

“Being published isn’t all it’s cracked up to be,” says award-winning author Anne Lamott.

“It is writing.”

So don’t be discouraged by your lack of publication.

Simply take pleasure in where you are right now.

Bryan Collins, a writing coach, is number eight.

Even if your work isn’t finished or great, I recommend sharing it online and displaying it to others.

I spent years attempting to perfect my words while composing short stories.

I didn’t share them with anyone and didn’t obtain the feedback I needed to develop my writing skills.

Rather, I tucked my drafts away in a drawer.

I only realized I was better at – and enjoyed – writing nonfiction after I began writing online.

I could have saved a lot of time if I had learned that lesson ten years ago.

Even so, making mistakes is sometimes necessary in order to progress.

Rachelle Gardner, a literary agent, is number nine.

Please take your time.

There’s no need to rush into publication.

Things will go better for you if you spend more time writing, reading, and learning to be a better writer.

Don’t attempt to rush things.

Ann Handley, author of Everybody Writes, is at number ten.

The best writing, I’d tell myself, serves the reader, not the writer.

To paraphrase Anne Lamott, E.B. White, and a million other writers, our mission as writers is to make greater sense of the world.

Even if you’re writing from your own point of view about your own life and experiences, you’re still presenting something real, truthful, and universal.

Therefore, make each sentence (and each word inside it) earn its keep:

Is this a self-indulgent sentence?

Is it beneficial to the reader?

Is it an explanation, elucidation, or elevation of the truth?

Get out of your own head and into the mind of the reader.

Joanna Penn, novelist and writing coach, is number eleven.

Make time for writing. Show up for that meeting with yourself, and start writing.

It doesn’t matter if those words aren’t very good—they probably won’t be—since you’ll be able to improve them later when you edit them.

However, you can’t edit a blank page, so sit down and start writing!

Do you require assistance with time management?

To get my FREE guide, How to Maximize Your Writing Time, click here.

12. Gabriela Pereira, DIY MFA author and founder

“Dream big, execute little,” I would advise.

These are not my words of wisdom, but they have become a mantra for me.

A big vision and tiny, methodical steps are required for creative success.

Without consistent action, audacious ambitions are impossible to achieve.

The Book Designer’s founder, Joel Friedlander, is number thirteen.

It’s critical to develop the habit of sitting down and writing every day.

A writer is simply someone who writes, and the only way to improve your craft and achieve fulfillment and success in your writing is to keep doing it.

Try to write at the same time every day, and don’t worry about whether or not what you’re writing is good-just keep writing.

Lisa Tener, a book development coach, is number 14 on the list.

Make spiritual practices a priority.

They are the most important source of encouragement for your work and creativity.

You’ll be able to write more readily with them, break through blocks more quickly, and maintain the stamina to write consistently and from the heart.

Carol Tice, the founder of Make a Living Writing, is number fifteen.

Dive right in and feel terrified later.

Simply take action and don’t second-guess where you’ll end up.

Consider doing something scarier than writing your post, and it will seem like a walk in the park.

Instead of being afraid to take action, think of everything you do as a writer as a science experiment.

I’ll write this and send it off and see what happens.

Then use what you’ve learned to improve.

Author and writing coach C.S. Lakin

I’d tell myself, “You’re far too cocky.”

Because you’ve read thousands of novels, you believe you know how to write one.

Stop trying to get your book published and spend your time learning how to write better.

There is such a thing as structure, and you are completely unaware of it.

Get every decent book on writing craft you can find, attend workshops and retreats, and, for the love of God, remain humble!

Take the advice of others.

“Be willing to learn.”

Tara Lazar, a children’s novelist, is number seventeen.

Stop being so impatient.

Slow down and hone your skills.

I needed the agent and the transaction to happen right away.

Yesterday,

Read, write, and take notes.

If you put forth the effort to master your craft, it will happen for you.

James Scott Bell is a novelist and writing coach.

Don’t be so irritable!

Developing your craft takes time.

You spent your twenties believing that you couldn’t learn to write because so many people told you that you couldn’t.

But then you gave it a shot and discovered that you can learn.

Continue to learn.

Continue to write.

Do you want to write a book but aren’t sure where to begin?

To get my FREE guide, How to Write a Book: Everything You Need to Know in 20 Steps, click here.

Debbie Ohi, a children’s novelist, is at number 19 on the list.

Don’t let your introversion get in the way of your success.

Yes, you may prefer to remain secluded in your creative cave, dreading the prospect of having to network and converse with strangers.

Your route will be considerably smoother if you get out and start training right now.

Begin by attending writers’ groups and getting to know people in your neighborhood.

It may be frightening at first, but it will become easier with time, and you will be astonished at how much fun you will have and the friends you will make.

Jennie Nash, the founder of Author Accelerator, is number 20.

I’d encourage my younger self to pay attention to the wise elders who told me I might make a living as a writer.

I wasted so much time doubting myself, making excuses, waiting for someone to throw a red carpet in front of me, and circling around the real writing by doing “writing adjacent” jobs.

All of my hesitation and skepticism cost me money.

I recently created a book coaching firm, and we help writers believe in themselves and take the actions necessary to make their ambitions a reality.

It’s as if I’ve completed a full circle.

Chris Fabry is a novelist and radio broadcaster. He is the author of “Under a Cloudless Sky.”

I’d go back to my childhood and tell myself to pay more attention to the small things.

Pay more attention to what you’re hearing and seeing.

You consider it enjoyable to sit at your grandmother’s kitchen table and listen to your uncles tell stories.

These are seeds that are being planted in your soul.

Soak up everything of it. ”

You’ll put all you’ve learned about hearing, seeing, touching, tasting, and smelling to good use.

When you’re a writer, you’ll take inspiration from these sacred moments.

The origins of all great storytelling may be traced back to infancy.

[A blog by Chris on how to make it as a writer.]

Les Edgerton, novelist and writing coach, is number 22.

In the words of Jim Harrison:

“Read the entire 400-year canon of Western literature.

If time permits, read the entire canon of eastern literature during the same span of time.

Because if you can’t tell what was good in the past, you can’t tell what is good now. ”

DiAnn Mills, a novelist and writing coach, is number 23.

I’d tell myself that my profession as a writer isn’t about me.

It can never be about the writer to achieve true success.

Reaching people with a great story that entertains, inspires, and encourages them is very important to the mission.

Writing is all about putting the needs of the reader first, which means I have to keep up with the craft, social media, and the publishing industry.

Angela Hunt, novelist and writing coach, is number 24.

Experts aren’t always correct.

You can develop a readership of people who enjoy reading a variety of genres.

To have a life that will fuel your writing, you must take breaks from writing.

Other hobbies can help you scratch a different creative itch while also fueling your writing.

Fast writing may be messy, but it produces finished writing that can be cleaned up and redone as many times as needed.

Take it at your own pace, but get moving!

Writing is a difficult task.

Anyone can string words together, but it takes labor, talent, and skill to imbue those words with the power to touch a heart and transform a life.

Also, tenacity.

Perseverance is the most important factor.

Steve Laube is a literary agent who is 25 years old.

No such thing as an instant book exists.

It is possible to publish a book rapidly, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

Number 26 on the list is author Philip Yancey.

Do not try this on your own.

Yes, writing is a lonely activity carried out in solitude.

However, a lot of different eyes are needed during the editing process to help the writer’s vision and meaning be more clear.

The grumpiest cynics make the finest editors; praise is nice, but only constructive criticism helps me progress.

Gloria Kempton, author and writing coach, is number 27.

Follow your bliss, as the mythologist Joseph Campbell put it: “Rather than following publishing trends or the mandates of the Christian publishing industry, Gloria, stick close to your inner truth as it comes to you when you sit down to write.”

Listen to yourself, not the numerous “experts” on how to construct your message and how to include it in everything you write.

Instead, focus on the inner questions that will take you to a more meaningful writing path, one marked by honesty and a desire for the truth that is uniquely yours as a child of God.

Assume you know nothing when you sit down to write.

Become a curious person.

Investigate.

Inquire.

Your goal isn’t to tell readers who they are or what they should believe; instead, it’s to pose crucial topics and allow them to investigate them for themselves. ”

Do you need assistance with polishing your writing?

To get my FREE self-editing checklist, go here.

Allen Arnold, author, lecturer, and former publisher, is number 28.

I would remind my younger self that no great work has ever been created without a great heart.

The heart of the storyteller takes precedence over everything else in the creative process, including formulae, word counts, social media, and productivity.

So, first and foremost, live well, and then write well.

Before you ask your art to stir the hearts of others, allow God to awaken your own hearts.

That will give your story a timeless spark that will transcend you and change the lives of others.

Saundra Dalton-Smith, author, speaker, and physician, is number 29.

Before you consider writing a book, focus on building a relationship with potential readers.

Publish a blog, post videos on YouTube, use social media, build an email list, or do all of these things.

Start cultivating your community years before writing the first book proposal.

Your tribe will be drawn to you because of your unique tale.

The more readers feel like they’re a part of your tale, the more inclined they are to tell others about it.

Becca Puglisi, author of The Emotion Thesaurus, is number 30.

Saying “yes” isn’t anything to be terrified of.

The road to becoming a writer can be long and winding.

There’s so much to do and learn that it’s easy to dismiss other chances as distractions, especially if you’re not quite confident in your ability to do them.

Stretch yourself and get out of your comfort zone.

New challenges will help you develop as an author and propel you further than you ever thought.

Yes could be the first step toward mastering a difficult part of the craft, meeting other authors who can help you grow, becoming an international speaker, or selling more books than you thought possible, so say yes!

So, if an opportunity presents itself that appears frightening or perhaps impossible, don’t immediately ignore it.

Consider what it might have to offer instead.

Will it teach you a useful skill, allow you to attempt something new, or force you to do something that makes you uncomfortable?

If that’s the case, it might actually be an excellent idea.

William Noble, an attorney, author, and writing coach, is number 31.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming you must follow a preset writer’s route, that you will be a novelist, poet, playwright, or journalist, and that you will only write this writing.

Don’t limit yourself to one genre of writing; experiment with fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, playscripts, essays, profiles, humor, memoirs, and biography.

How you test yourself will eventually reveal the shape of your skills.

Steven James, author and speaker, is number 32.

I’d tell my younger self that story always wins out over structure.

Numerous books exist that explain how to plot and build a novel, yet these publications have the potential to disrupt the plot.

It’s tempting to use them instead of going through the natural process of story-forming, but it’s critical to allow the tale to guide your writing.

You’ll always return to an outline if you’re afraid.

Learning to turn that fear into creation rather than constraining yourself as a result of it is an important part of the artistic process.

Michele Cushatt, author, lecturer, and emcee, is number 33.

Write for the love of writing, not for the money it might bring you.

People who keep going are those who can’t stop writing, and contracts and publication are only secondary prizes for them.

Rather than pursuing recognition, they want to comprehend.

These people are excited about the challenge and learn to wonder about the unraveling of complicated things and the power of great stories.

Few other human experiences have the capacity to transform you and the way you see the world, like writing.

This is the true prize, the one that will survive long after the lights have gone out.

Marion Roach Smith, a memoir writing coach, is number 34.

“Discipline.”

All the inspiration and rituals, lucky pens, lovely views out the window, and all the other things you think you need before starting writing will not offer you anything of value if you don’t have discipline.

They just will not keep you going as long as discipline will.

But I’d tell myself that with elegance and humor, not a little sternly.

No young writer should be told off in any way. Instead, they should be surrounded by a lot of support and encouragement.

Do you want to know how to get more words on the page when you’re writing?

To get my FREE guide, How to Maximize Your Writing Time, click here.

Patricia Raybon, author, writer, and teacher, is number 35.

Every day, write.

But not only for the sake of productivity.

Write to rediscover yourself, to reacquaint yourself with the human being you were born to be—the one with something valuable to contribute to the world.

Don’t publish every day.

Rather, post on a regular basis, honing what you want to say and how you want to convey it.

Bravado, brawling, and bluster?

Not at all.

Encouragement, inspiration, and kindness.

Yes.

Even as I compose this letter to author Jerry Jenkins, I’m reminded of the need for regular writing.

It’s an additional feature that aids in the discovery of your brand, purpose, message, values, and target audience.

Therefore, write.

In scholarly publications,

In writing

On your grocery list, which is taped to the refrigerator,

Make a note of something.

Today,

As a writer, you’ll improve.

What’s better?

You will mature as a person.

Your readers, as well as your career, will be grateful.

Brandilyn Collins, a novelist and writing instructor, is number 36.

Brandilyn, you’re about to go on a perilous quest.

There will be some highs and many lows.

The writing business/industry will be diverse, and regardless of what you sell, you’ll constantly want more.

Keep in mind that this isn’t about you.

It’s for Him that you write for the Christian market, that you write novels that depict God’s grace and might.

God will use these books in whichever way he sees fit.

Through the words you write, God will transform people’s lives for eternity.

And that is something that no amount of money could ever buy.

Follow his lead when it comes to your writing.

Maintain your dedication to your craft.

Make marketing a priority.

Give God your absolute best.

Then leave the results up to Him.

Julie Duffy, the originator of Story a Day, is number 37.

Don’t wait till you’re older, wiser, or invited to the party to write.

Wait till you have something “important” to say before you speak.

You’re living right now, and you’ll never be able to relive the sensations of being 15, 22, or 36 again… not really.

Things that matter to you today will not matter in the same way as they do now, and things that matter to you now will not necessarily be more significant when you’re older.

You may have more knowledge, but it does not make you more fascinating or significant.

Now is the time to write.

Don’t put it off because you don’t want your writing to be rusty when you have something vital to communicate.

Your writing will develop and evolve, and if you feel stuck, you’ll look for mentors and tutors to help you reach the next level.

Don’t put it off since your best ideas will come to you when you’re writing.

As long as you keep writing, you will never run out of ideas.

Don’t wait for someone to tell you that you need to write.

Writing is a part of you, whether or not someone ever pays you to write, or asks you to contribute, or gives you permission to sneak away for an hour or two to tell stories on paper.

When you accept and embrace that, you become more fully yourself.

When you’re writing, you’re easier to live with, so take the time you need and don’t put it off.

Make it a priority to write rather than worrying about whether or not you’ll be able to make a living from it.

My darling, don’t put the cart before the horse!

Oh, and this thing called the Internet is going to be your best friend.

Randy Alcorn is an inspirational author who is 38 years old.

Write only the novels that you are certain God wants you to write.

Not just good ideas from books, but concepts that are personally meaningful to you and match your heart, convictions, wiring, and style, not someone else’s.

It’s important to listen to publishers and others; to hear their ideas; and to adapt your own, as long as you maintain a sense of ownership over the book so that it truly is yours.

Never write a book that you can’t put your whole heart and soul into.

Even 90% isn’t enough, because when you hit the snags, your heart has to be completely invested.

Jessica Strawser, Writer’s Digest author and editor-at-large

As a writer, I’ve learned how important it is to connect with other authors through genre-based organizations, conferences, Facebook groups, in-person groups, and any other way possible. My advice is to find and grow your tribe as soon as possible.

Their encouragement will help you remain afloat at every turn, and by giving as much as you get, you’ll keep connected to the joy of the craft even when things become tough off the page.

Jerry Jenkins, novelist, biographer, and owner of the Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild, is number 40.

Make sure you’re happy with every word before submitting anything.

Become a ruthless, if not violent, self-editor.

My guide to this topic can be found here.

And here’s where you can learn more about my writer’s guild.

Source

JerryJenkins.com/writing-tips/