The Best Writing Advice I Ever Received — Part I

Welcome to The Writer’s Refuge. If this is the first time you’ve stopped by or if you haven’t read my introductory Welcome Page, let me tell you what this blog is about. If you’re a writer, it’s about your life. No, not your personal life, your writing life. How can I make that claim?  Think about it. Your writing life is really not that different from mine. We may structure our day differently and experience different levels of success but we all have deadlines; writer’s block; suffer rejection from agents, editors, publishers; we all have felt desperate for inspiration; and worst of all, we  sometimes doubt our “call” to write.

As I mentioned in my “Welcome to The Writer’s Refuge” page (see tab above), this blog is a place for writer’s to find insight, inspiration, or simply a brief word of encouragement. To that end, in this first post, I’d like to share with you some of the best writing advice I ever received.

1) “Write for joy. Take your mind off of publication.”Erica Jong, novelist  It’s a given that if you are a serious writer you are writing for publication because publication = a paycheck and a platform. I have been writing professionally for 25 years including 10 years as a full-time freelance executive speechwriter and advertising copywriter. Yet, when I survey my career, I was most happy when I remembered to write for joy. When you write for the joy of writing you free yourself to do your best work. And when you do your best work, publication will come.

2) “Since when is writing about speed.”Elmore Leonard, giant of crime fiction.  I tend to push myself to be prolific and I’m very impatient with publication. Why is this process so slow and arduous? Leonard reminds me to slow down and get it right. Writing is a craft. It’s not about speed, it’s about the quality of the craftsmanship.

3) “A writer must work every day, realizing that most days will be bad ones; he must sit at his typewriter or under a tree with his pencil and paper, and take the awful responsibility of wasting time.” Robert Penn Warren  In my writing career I have often felt like I was wasting time. Will this novel sell? Will I ever be able to build a national platform? Is this article good enough, unique enough? Should I have cut the grass instead?

In an article entitled, “In Writing, Persistence is Key,” late author Andre´Dubus cited the Robert Penn Warren quote above and then answered him. “I’m sure Mr. Warren didn’t really mean that writing unsuccessful pages was a waste of time. Because whether the particular pages of a particular day are good or not, there is still you, all of you, bringing to that work and that day everything you have. And when you do that, you’re a writer.”

I have received many more pieces of writing advice over the years that I will share with you in future blogs. In the meantime, I’m interested in your thoughts. I invite you to respond to the “Your Turn” question below in every blog entry.

Your Turn:  What is the best writing advice you ever received?

Watch for weekly blog posts here at The Writer’s Refuge.

Blogs will be posted every Thursday.

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Published in: on May 22, 2011 at 12:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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