10 Timeless Writing Tips From Great Writers

Writers

Honestly, who doesn’t love a good quote?

They are words that have been said hundreds, maybe even thousands of years ago, but they still live and breathe every time it is said or used in a piece.

They let us know, in short phrases and sentences, that we are not alone.

I have a strange habit and I’ll share it with you: I love reading pages and pages of quotes whether it’s writing, inspiration, motivation, or life . . . I love ‘em all.

They’re powerful, concise, moving, and they teach you a lesson.

I want to share with you 10 of my favorite writing tips. Each quote should be taken seriously, and also understand that these writers were in your seat along time ago; their advice lives on forever.

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” ― Stephen King

As writers we have two fundamental jobs: reading & writing.

Reading builds our vocabulary, voice, structure, and understanding the power behind words. It allows us to enter a world that another writer created — to feel what they felt, to smell the aromas around them, and to be able to step in another person’s shoes.

If you don’t read a lot of different material, your writing cannot be reinforced.

Read everything from shitty books to newspapers, magazines and headlines, copywriting and novels.

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” ― Mark Twain

As writers we are always looking for the right word — the words that send goosebumps up and down the spine.

Wordplay is a beautiful and dominant tool.

Have you ever been in a situation — most likely facing someone you like — and you walk away, talk it over with your friends, reminisce what you said, and wish you said something different . . . something better?

Of course you have; everyone goes through that.

That’s the difference between the right word and almost right word.

With writing, we always need to find the right words — to express what our true emotions are and to paint a vivid picture.

Reading will help you find the right words because reading builds words and patterns in your head.

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” — Robert Frost

You want to be able to shock & awe your readers.

How?

  • Tell a personal story/experience that you went through
  • Use powerful quotes
  • Paint a vivid picture of your experience, your actions, what you did to solve the problem
  • Relate with your readers; show them that you made the same mistake or been in the same situation, and show them how to alleviate it
  • Don’t be afraid to be yourself — it’s better to sound like yourself than an instruction manual.

I’m not telling you to make people cry — although an emotional, heart-felt cry will always have your readers coming back — but your objective is to make the reader walk away saying wow.

Every time you’re about to put word to page, just think about that quote.

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” — Jack Kerouac

Have you ever noticed that the most powerful sentences, the first words of a great novel are usually simple, concise words?

I’m totally stealing this only because they did such a fantastic piece on this, but Copyblogger recently published a post called The 2nd Most Important Element of Copywriting.

In the post, they explain how the second most important element of copywriting is the first sentence.

This is true for writers of all kinds.

Learn how to simplify your sentences, and remove unnecessary words like really, very, and totally.

If you haven’t read it already, The Elements of Style (not an affiliate link), is a must read for all writers. It will teach you how to omit needless words, to master grammar, and to fortify your writing ten fold.

“The first draft of anything is shit.” — Ernest Hemingway

Mr. Hemingway, I salute you.

He explained the essence of first drafts in seven words.

This is a truth that all writers must digest, regurgitate, and then stare at it.

No matter how passionate you are about a piece of work, the first draft will always be shit.

In the process of writing my first eBook, it felt like I ran into 10 first drafts. Every time I sent it off to my friend to edit, I felt like I was writing a whole new book.

This isn’t a bad thing, because this process is helping me stay focused on the subject of the book and deliver a clear and powerful message.

This is my approach to blog posts.

  • Wake up, drink my coffee, and look over my notes and ideas that I had written down over the course of a few weeks.
  • I pick an idea, something I’m passionate about, and I begin writing. I write, write, write, write, write, then I’m done.
  • I walk away. I let it marinate. I completely forget everything I wrote.
  • I go about my day, doing what I must get accomplished, and reading a ton of material.
  • I go to sleep, wake up the next day, and edit my post vigorously.
  • I publish it if I feel what I’m saying is insightful, compelling, and concise.

Your process may be different, which is fine; that’s just how I go about writing my posts.

The one thing I am adamant about: let your work sit overnight and clear your head.

Constantly rereading what you wrote will trick your brain and thinking in many ways.

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” — Stephen King, On Writing

This is something I took very seriously, and when put into practice, I noticed a difference.

When I write with my door closed, it’s as if I’m shutting the world out — it’s just me and the page and my words.

When I write with the door open . . . I do feel a difference. Do you?

I do this both for writing and editing; I’ll write with the door open, then closed, and I’ll edit and read my work out loud with the door open, then closed.

I can’t really put my finger on it, but until you try this method, then we can talk about it.

“Good writers borrow, Great writers steal.” — T.S. Eliot

No matter how much you thrive on being original — you’re not.

At times you may come up with something fantastic and brilliant, but chances are it originated from something else, something you saw or heard.

As writers, the truth is, we steal ideas.

We steal ideas from one another, from television, media, external sources, books, magazines, people’s lives, what we see and experience throughout our day.

There is nothing wrong with this, because chances are even if you stole this idea for a post, what you come up with won’t be the same as mine. It may look the same, but the way you break down the quotes, or even the quotes you use, will be different from mine.

So go ahead. Steal this idea for a post — twist and churn, embellish and ornate it with your own words and ideas.

“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

There are times throughout the day where I feel a sudden lust for writing.

For some magical reason, a great idea hits me in the forehead, I sit there thinking about it even though people are directly speaking to me, and I can’t help but envision what the page will look like.

You probably faced these moments as well; clear as day, you are a writer.

We are creatives, simple as that. We possess art, craft, whatever you want to call it, and we feel the need to express it — either through writing, painting, music, etc.

You write because you have knowledge that you want to share. You have a unique perspective and you want the world to know about it. You went through some crazy life experiences, learned from them, and now want to share motivational and inspirational tips.

Always remember your purpose as a writer.

“Every writer I know has trouble writing. ” — Joseph Heller

Ain’t that the damn truth?

I’m starting to believe one of the hardest tasks in the world is to become a writer. Do you agree?

It can drain the hell out of you, it’s tedious, daunting, unrewarding at times, and it requires every bit if your creative energy.

Hell, becoming a writer just about a year ago makes me realize, shit, what the hell did I get myself into this time?

I don’t regret it though. This was a calling I could not ignore, and I’m damn proud that I stepped on the path of becoming a writer.

Even at our best, writing can be difficult.

Instead of trying to force your brain to work, sometimes it’s best to step away, to clear your mind, and to start over.

“As things stand now, I am going to be a writer. I’m not sure that I’m going to be a good one or even a self-supporting one, but until the dark thumb of fate presses me to the dust and says ‘you are nothing’, I will be a writer.” — Hunter S. Thompson

My favorite quote — and author — of all time.

This describes my attitude as a writer, and maybe this is how you should be thinking of it as well.

It’s a powerful and daring quote, but shit, how many of you writers think exactly like this?

All or nothing, baby.

And that quote is what I would like to end this off with.

I hope all these quotes have inspired you.

What quotes would you like to share with us? What quotes are deeply embedded in your brain, and have motivated you as a writer? Please share with us.

2 Comments

  1. If you’re serious about writing, I would recommend to follow Jeff Goins, he is a great writer and teaches a lot of stuff to writers like us.

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