18 writing tips from authors

All authors, however famous, started their careers with a first draft of their first book – and most then struggled through numerous redrafts and failed attempts. All character-building experience which we’ve collated into a collective wisdom of 18 inspiring  quotes.

“Remember – the first draft is as bad as the book is ever going to be.” Emily Friendship

‘Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet.’ Zadie Smith

‘Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting.’ Jonathan Franzen

‘Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.’ George Orwell

‘Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.’ Ray Bradbury

‘Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.’ Virginia Woolf

‘The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.’ Samuel Johnson

‘When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.’ Stephen King

‘I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.’ Harper Lee

‘It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.’ Ernest Hemingway

‘When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature.’ Ernest Hemingway

‘The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.’ Philip Roth

‘The road to hell is paved with adverbs.’ Stephen King

‘Writers live twice.’ Natalie Goldberg

‘Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.’ Zadie Smith

‘In the planning stage of a book, don’t plan the ending. It has to be earned by all that will go before it.’ Rose Tremain

‘Always carry a note-book. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever.’ Will Self

‘Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.’ Anton Chekhov



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