Practical Writing Tips from Accomplished Authors
We may be saying goodbye to 2021 but we are by no means leaving behind all the lessons we have learned.
Through The Author Speaks program, Independent Authors Book Experience has been blessed with the opportunity to speak with amazing authors from various genres this year. As 2021 comes to a close, let's look back at some of the nuggets of wisdom these accomplished authors have for aspiring authors.
We hope these practical writing tips inspire you to pursue your passion in writing and welcome 2022 with enthusiasm and confidence.
January 20, 2021 - Self-Help Edition
“Be proud of your uniqueness. I think that’s the main reason why people don’t publish because they think about all of the other writers. They start comparing and say, “I’m no Stephen King. I’m not as good as this person.” They start comparing themselves and that’s the first thing that makes them go, “I can’t do this because I won’t be as good.” Once you realize you’re not supposed to compare yourself, then that will really get you to start writing and to start publishing.
The second advice I would give is I call it the three Rs - reading, researching and restudying because one of the things I learned about publishing is that there’s more work in it than just writing. There are three ways to publish but all three ways require a lot of work, a lot of time, and a lot of money.
If you haven’t published that book yet, the first thing that I would tell you to do is to get rid of the Starbucks addiction and get rid of the Netflix and start putting that money into savings, or an IRA, or something because it takes a lot of money and you want to have that money by the time you’re ready to publish.
Get rid of the television and the social media so you have time to focus on the research. Not necessarily content, grammar, punctuation and all that but more so marketing, advertising and PR because there was a time in history, hundred of years ago, when someone did all that for you but now, even if you hire someone and spend thousands and thousands of dollars in marketing, they still want you to do a lot of the work. Do research on not just how to write a book but the marketing and all of the three different ways to publish.
When you’re making a decision, don’t make a decision on how much money you want to make but write down the cons and the pros. If you are okay with the cons, then that’s the decision you go with because there’s a bad side to self-publishing, there’s a bad side to going with a small publisher, and there’s a bad side going with the big publisher. And so you have to decide which bad side I am okay with the most and that’s the one you decide.”
- Casey Bell
“Discover what your voice is, whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction or children’s books. What’s your unique voice? I think each of us has a unique voice and that’s part of the discovery process for us writers is what is our voice, what is the unique thing that we can speak and that we can bring forth into the world that would be valuable for others to learn and to hear.
You have to have faith in yourself. You have to have faith in your story. You have to not let what others are saying dissuade you.
Be humble and be open to feedback.”
- Richard Stone
April 21, 2021 - Poetry Edition
“It is our responsibility to tell the truth and to be a keeper of story. Make sure that you tell the truth whatever your truth is because your truth is authentic to you, but just make sure that you’re truthful to your craft, truthful to your authenticity, and that you tell the truth because it is a responsibility. Being a poet is a responsibility that people used to lose their lives for. Consider that when you want to write that you have something to say. Leave your impact on the world. What you write will be your legacy. Consider that when you create.”
- Ayanna McNeill
“Read. Not just read poetry, read some of everything. Read magazine, articles, newspapers, short stories, novels. Travel. Talk to people. Become an observer of the world. Practice writing. Keep a journal. Keep track of things that you hear - bits of conversation, the color of the flower that’s outside, the smell of perfume in the air. Just become an observer of life. Once you start writing, share your work with other people. Be open to feedback.”
- Carla M. Cherry
“Do not compare yourself to any other writer, to any other person. You are your own unique person and what you have to offer matters. You can look to other poets and writers as inspiration but do not set that expectation to be just like this person.”
- Nicole Danielle
May 19, 2021 - Non Fiction Edition
“For people who are heavy on social media, take a step back and use it to research, to connect, to network.
Write how you write. This goes back to comparing yourself to other writers. It’s perfectly fine to use people as influence, to use people as inspiration, but comparison is the thief of joy. When you sit there and compare how you write or how you do spoken words to another author as if how you were born is identical to the next person, it robs you of who you are, it robs you of your talents, it robs you of exactly how God made you, and how He has designed you and designed your brain. Everything works in divine order. It really goes back to trusting yourself and not comparing yourself.
Read, read, read.
Be open to growing in your writing style. You’re never going to be perfect. You’re never going to be 100%. That is the process of being on the journey of life. Just continue to grow and be open to that. Don’t think just because you’ve got some awards or you’ve been acknowledged on a certain platform that you don’t have the capacity anymore to continuously learn. You’re going to learn until you die.”
- Chantelle Adanna
“Set aside time every day to work on your craft and stick to it. Don’t let anything get in the way of it within reason.
Get someone to edit your book. You usually can’t find your mistakes. You need someone to go through it and look at it.
Research your craft. Make sure you understand what you need to do.
Follow other writers. Attend writing seminars. Write about other writers.”
- Dr. Cadmus S. Hull
June 16, 2021 - Children's Genre Edition
“Keep a notebook and pen handy to write down your ideas.
Do your research. Really investigate information that you see; don’t take it at face value.
Have a vision and a plan but also be flexible because you never know what potential blessings you could be blocking.
Network, network, network. I’ve given away so many free copies of my book and people say, “Don’t you want to get paid?” and I’m like, I don’t know whose hands this book is going to land in and so many opportunities can develop from that.
Be passionate and humble.
Surround yourself with people that can support you.
Remain faithful. It’s a process and a journey but it’s a wonderful journey as things start to materialize for you.”
- Ginger Smith
“Be committed to the craft. It’s not just, “Oh, I want to write a book and do this.” There has to be a sincere commitment and passion. Build and allocate time to put into it - those midnight hours. If you want this book done, you’re going to have to stay up at 3:00 to 4:00 in the morning to get certain things done.
Be patient and have a level of flexibility.
Build the proper network.
Create an outline. Set goals for the book. Understand what you want the book to do. What do you want the book to accomplish? Do you want to send a message? Do you want to convey something? Who is it going to impact?”
- Zoe Duran Miller
November 17, 2021 - Fiction Edition
“Be authentic to yourself. Write what you know. Authenticity always sells. Being real is always marketable and profitable. But don’t think about what’s marketable and profitable, think about why you wanted to write in the beginning, what your passion is behind the story that you want to tell and make that be your driving force.
Understand that success is subjective, and so however you define success for yourself is success. Don’t let anybody define your success for you. Don’t let anybody define your journey as an author for you.
If you have a story within you, if you have something that you want to leave in the world, there's a quote from Abiodun of The Last Poets and he says “If you want to live forever, do work.” Because your work is forever, that’s your legacy. If you want to leave something behind and you want to live forever, write something. The world needs the story that you have living inside of you. Just get it on the page.”
- Ayanna McNeill
“Be true to who you are. Write what you know and what you’re passionate about. Don’t write things that somebody else might be interested in. Write what you feel passionate about.”
- Bryant Camareno
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Missed the past weeks' Wednesday Writing Tips? Check them out here.