Friday, April 15, 2011

Out of the Mouths of the Best Writers

Who hasn’t asked themselves, “What do the best writers say about how to be the best?”  In the spirit of throwing light on the habits of writers, here are ideas I’ve gathered:
----Random ideas of “debut” novelists in Writer’s Digest:

Don Helin: “Be persistent and don’t let turn downs turn you off.”

Stephen Jay Schwartz:  “There is no secret to success…The secret is in loving the process.”  His advice:  “Never stop writing.  Read great writing all the time…Write what you would want to read.” 

Stephen King:
On Control:  “I usually feel in control.  But not always.”

On Writing:  “I can’t do anything else.  And every day I marvel that I can get money for doing something I enjoy so much.”

On Writing for an Audience:  “I hardly ever consider the audience at all…I have a built-in desire to please…Beyond that, I’m just trying to amuse myself.”

And: “..we’re all amateurs at this job…it always feels like the first time.”

James Patterson—On building a recognized Brand:  “Writers always want to hear it’s the advertising.  It isn’t—it’s’ the product.”

On how to make the material interesting:  “I try not to write a chapter that isn’t going to turn on the movie projector in your head...My style is colloquial storytelling.”

On awareness of the audience:  “I’m very conscious of an audience.  I’m very conscious that I’m an entertainer.”

On writing with co-authors:  “Who cares?...I think teamwork is great.  I couldn’t possibly do all those stories.  I have a file of stories that’s 400 pages thick, and they’re stories that I want to tell.”

Advice to aspiring writers of commercial fiction:  “…it’s story, story, story.  You’ve got to get a story where if you tell it to somebody in a paragraph, they’ll go, ‘Tell me more.’”

On various projects and different genres:  “What’s the key?  The key is passion.  I think you gotta love it.”

On the secret to success:  “I don’t think there are a lot of really readable books out there…It’s very hard to grab people…John Grisham grabs people.”


  1. If I was a famous writer I would say: "To be a good writer one must read plenty".

  2. The key IS passion. If writing were a whim, then there would only be scribbles.