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?