Sixty Scintillating Hints for Writers

1. Who you know might help you get published, but how well you write determines who would want to know you.
2. Everything you’ve done in your life that you’re ashamed of is a gift to you as a writer.
3. If you know something other people don’t know, you’re a fool if you don’t write about it.
4. Proofreading is not revision; revision is reconnecting with your initial vision.
5. Passion about your writing will be empty passion if you aren’t passionate about something else too.
6. If you wish for money and fame, realize that when you are writing you are doing what the rich and famous would like to do.
7. Know not seems: Declare war on hedging, qualifying words, such as “perhaps” “almost,” “sort of,” and “somewhat.”
8. Your best writing will be congruent with who you are.
9. Jealousy of other writers’ success is not a deadly sin, but it is a deadly waste of time.
10. Productive writers spend more time on their writing than they admit.
11. Unproductive writers spend less time on their writing than they claim.
12. The Mother of Procrastination is not Laziness, it is Fear of Failure.
13. All writers should read poetry.
14. People who write frequent letters find their voice.
15. Be wary of positive reactions when you read your work aloud to a group.
16. Your early writing gifts will strike others as weaknesses.
17. Don’t write for your mother’s approval.
18. If you’re inclined to write about the same thing over and over, do it.
19. An urge to write about something small is your Muse’s way of luring you toward something big.
20. Genius hides its sweat.
21. When you want to publish, realize that your first audience is an editor.
22. You don’t have to be social to be a recognized writer—but you have to show something somewhere.
23. Believing in something you can’t prove will not hinder you as a writer.
24. Learn standard rules of punctuation and formatting—especially in dialogue.
25. Failed attempts are not a waste of time.
26. Not all criticism of your work is equal.
27. You cannot successfully imitate what is not innately yours already.
28. Million-dollar ideas are a dime a dozen; commitment to a few ideas is a lifetime’s work.
29. The frustrating part is the door to the satisfying part.
30. Have two writing projects going and tell people only about the one that is least important to you.
31. Writer’s block is not the greatest obstacle; writer’s plateau is.
32. Let others assume they know what kind of writer you are.
33. Steal the techniques of poets and fiction writers in your nonfiction.
34. Nonfiction should be at war with reality, even as it holds a mirror to it.
35. Nonfiction is not the art of telling the truth, it is the art of arming your intentions with facts.
36. Name recognition trumps everything else in getting published.
37. If you achieve success, let someone else do your boasting.
38. Pay your taxes, but don’t expect the IRS to understand your situation.
39. “I don’t have time to write” is always a lie.
40. Significant writing risks a depth that insignificant writing does not.
41. The brightest spots in your writing come from the shadow side of your personality.
42. Like the military you may need discipline, but you also need sustained openness.
43. Desire without patience can ruin your writing, as can patience without desire.
44. Imagine the mysterious unknown of what you know well.
45. If you write early in the morning, you’ll increase your productivity and quality.
46. Consort with your enemies, internal and external.
47. You are never wasting time if you’re enjoying what you’re doing.
48. Forgive yourself if you hunger for praise because a hunger for praise means you also have the capacity to praise.
49. Read the writers whom writers you admire read.
50. Never underestimate the value of 15 minutes’ writing time.
51. Aerobic writing exercise prepares you for anaerobic writing sprints.
52. If you need a partner, find one who cracks you up and doesn’t compete with you.
53. Don’t turn away from a kind of writing that comes easily for you.
54. Read your favorite writers’ early work.
55. Risk putting your hand in the scariest fires of your life and imagination.
56. Risk putting your head under the water of the greatest mysteries of your life and imagination.
57. Write every day.
58. Don’t deny the pain of rejection.
59. Few writers can handle notoriety, so be careful what you wish for.
60. Writing because you have to is all right; writing because you want to is even better.