Friday, March 18, 2016

Words of Wisdom


To coincide with the upcoming release of my Dylan Scott Mystery Series box sets, Carina Press asked me to share a writing tip. Well, that’s easy. The one thing that has kept me going over the years is this: 

"Write, write, write. You can polish later. What you can’t do is edit a blank page."

Which, in my case at least, rather ties in with this wonderful quote from Ernest Hemingway: 

"The first draft of everything is shit."

(Oh, so true.)

This got me thinking about the wise words that writers have given us over the years.

One of my favourite tips comes from Mark Twain: 

"Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."

That definitely applies to me as ‘very’ is one of my many demon words. Others are ‘really’, ‘actually’, ‘simply’ - the list is almost endless.

More wise words from Ernest Hemingway: 

"Write drunk, edit sober."

It was Jack London who gave us this gem: 

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

This piece of advice from Stephen King rings true too: 

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time - or the tools - to write. Simple as that.”

Fortunately, I always have time to read. :)

Maybe as mystery writers, we should heed Raymond Chandler’s advice: 

“When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.”

Hmm. I might try that one…

Whenever we complain of writer’s block, perhaps we should pay attention to Philip Pullman’s words: 

“All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, and doctors don’t get doctor’s block; why should writers be the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expects sympathy for it?”

This is another personal favourite from Janet Ivanovich:

"Respect and love your readers. Write for the reader."

Having said all of the above, Lev Grossman’s words come to mind: 

“Don’t take anyone’s writing advice too seriously.” 

Do you have any tips you’d be willing to share with us? 


8 comments:

Anne Marie Becker said...

Love these, Shirley! I'd heard some of them, but others are newfound gems for me. :) I can't remember who originally said it, but a friend of mine likes the advice "write ferociously." I love that. I take it to mean to give myself permission to write a crappy first draft but fill it with all the emotion and action that I want because, as your other advice mentions, there's always the editing phase to fix things.

Shirley Wells said...

Oh, I love that, Anne Marie. I'm going to pin it above my desk!

jean harrington said...

Enjoyed the quotes, Shirley. As for advise, what I tell myself is, Write at the same time every day--every day--and your mind will be trained to get into the "zone."

Rita said...

A couple of these I had not heard thanks for sharing. The one I adore is 'There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.' Somerset Maugham

Marcelle Dubé said...

Ha! Love all the tips, Shirley! My favourite is "Let your inner two-year-old out" -- which means don't let convention or worry stop you from writing "your" story.

Shirley Wells said...

Jean, I love that idea. I can never get into a good routine and end up writing at all sorts of odd hours. Maybe I need to discipline myself to sit down at the same time.

Rita, I love that one from Somerset Maugham too.

Marcelle, I love that one. I haven't heard about the inner two-year-old but I'm determined to let mine out now. Thanks for sharing!

Maureen A. Miller said...

Excellent quotes. Yet, the most succinct was from the author herself. "What you can’t do is edit a blank page."

Keep writing, Shirley!

Shirley Wells said...

Thank you, Gladys. :) Thanks to Anne Marie, I am going to write ferociously!