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Top 10 Writing Tips from Famous Authors

If you want to succeed as a writer, it is wise to seek advice from those who have already succeeded in their fields. Take a look at these tried-and-true writing tips from famous authors and see how you can apply them to your own writing.

Top 10 Writing Tips from Famous Authors

1. “It is all very well for you to write simply and the simpler the better. But do not start to think so damned simply. Know how complicated it is and then state it simply.”

- Ernest Hemingway

2. “I listen to music while I’m writing. So music very naturally comes into my writing. I don’t think much about what kind of music it is, but the music is kind of food for me. It gives me the energy to write. So I write about music often. And mostly I write about the music I love. It’s good for my health. I have learned so many things from music about writing. I think there are three important elements: rhythm, harmony, and free improvisation. I learned these things from music, not from literature. And when I started to write, I tried to write as though I were playing music.”

- Haruki Murakami

3. “I don’t want to write that first sentence until all the important connections in the novel are known to me. As if the story has already taken place, and it’s my responsibility to put it in the right order to tell it to you.”

- John Irving

4. “My work does fall apart a lot. It gets just too weird for anyone to care about reading, or else it gets diluted into a sort of parody of itself. Intuition is the only way to keep on the line between them. And also focusing back on to the first time the idea came into your head has some kind of pristine conviction that it gradually loses. . . Because there’s something almost magically convincing about that piece of paper. The same words typed on a nice clean piece of paper wouldn’t have whatever it is—fidelity, to your original thought.”

- Anne Carson

5. “When you don’t want to write, set an egg timer for one hour (or half hour) and sit down to write until the timer rings. If you still hate writing, you’re free in an hour. But usually, by the time that alarm rings, you’ll be so involved in your work, enjoying it so much, you’ll keep going.”

- Chuck Palahniuk

6. “Leave a decent space of time between writing something and editing it.”

- Zadie Smith

7. “I always write in the morning. I was pleased to hear lately that Rousseau, too, after he got up in the morning, went for a short walk and sat down to work. In the morning one’s head is particularly fresh. The best thoughts most often come in the morning after waking while still in bed or during the walk.”

- Leo Tolstoy

8. “You can always find time to write. Anybody who says he can’t is living under false pretenses. To that extent depend on inspiration. Don’t wait. When you have an inspiration put it down. Don’t wait until later and when you have more time and then try to recapture the mood and add flourishes. You can never recapture the mood with the vividness of its first impression.”

- William Faulkner

9. “What if you have a blockage and you don’t know what to do about it? Well, it’s obvious you’re doing the wrong thing, aren’t you? . . . You’re being warned, aren’t you? Your subconscious is saying I don’t like you anymore. You’re writing about things I don’t give a damn for. . . If you have writers’ block you can cure it this evening by stopping what you’re doing and writing something else. You picked the wrong subject.”

- Ray Bradbury

10. “Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.”

- Margaret Atwood

Let us know in the comments below if you found these helpful.

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