The Best Writing Advice I Ever Got by 31 Debut Authors

You read that right- this guest post features 31 debut authors sharing the best writing advice they've received on their writing journey.  There are some wonderful words of wisdom here from some fabulous writers.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

"As someone who goes through a lot of revisions to get where I need to go, I think of Nora Robert's 'You can fix anything but a blank page' every single day."- Huntley Fitzpatrick, author of MY LIFE NEXT DOOR

"Think LEAN. Trim and trim and trim again until you have removed all unnecessary or repetitive words and phrases that can slow your readers down, or worse yet, make them yawn. Pay special attention to adverbs and adjectives -- they aren't all bad, but overuse can mark you as a beginner... or a hack! LEAN can refer to word choice as well. Overuse of flowery or obscure vocabulary can distract the reader from your story."-  Catherine Masciola, author of FISHTALE

"The best advice I received was from Octavia E. Butler at the Clarion West Writers Workshop: Be persistent. That really does cover you through every phase of your writing career, including drafting and revising, querying agents, submitting your stories and novels, collecting rejections, and so on. Many authors have succeeded because they put in the hours necessary to write their best work, and they didn't give up."  - E.C. Myers, author of FAIR COIN and QUANTUM COIN

"Someone said to me once, 'That book isn't going to write itself, you know.' I'd been moping around talking about writing and thinking about writing but not actually DOING the writing."- Zoraida Cordova, author of THE VICIOUS DEEP

"The best writing advice I ever got was not to judge your first chapter until you've finished the first draft. It will look much different to you once you've gotten to the end."- Lissa Price, author of STARTERS and ENDERS (2013)

"Don't start with action. Start with a change."  -Jodi Meadows, author of INCARNATE and ASUNDER (2013)

" Everyone talks about what you "see" in a scene, but employ all the senses. What does the scene smell like? What taste settles on the tongue?"- Anne Greenwood Brown, author of LIES BENEATH and DEEP BETRAYAL (2013)


"K.L. Going talking to me at a critique session: 'The rest sounds fabulous, but no one can read your book if it's only in your head.' I sat down and finished and it was the best thing I ever did. Love her!"- Kim Sabatini, author of TOUCHING THE SURFACE

"Your first ideas are always the most obvious. Dig deeper and push further to take your draft from good to great."- Shannon Messenger, author of  KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES and LET THE SKY FALL

"If I had to go for "best" it would be the tried and true 'You can't revise a blank page.'" -  E.M. Kokie, author of PERSONAL EFFECTS

"If you can do anything else - anything else in this whole freaking world and be HAPPY - do it.  Because this business is rough."- Gretchen McNeil, author of POSSESS and TEN

"Don't be easy on your characters. If there's no conflict, there's no action, and without action, your characters go nowhere." - Laura Ellen, author of BLIND SPOT

"The best writing advice I ever got was to find a good critique group. My group has been invaluable over the past eight years. Their critiques have helped me become a much stronger writer, and they've been a great source of support along the way, but just like agents, you have to find the right one with the right "rules" to create a group that will benefit everyone."- L.B. Schulman, author of LEAGUE OF STRAYS  

"Write...even when you don't feel like it."- Victoria Scott, author of THE COLLECTOR

"Don't develop any habits about where you write or what you need to write. Learn to write anywhere, any time, under any conditions."- Lauren Morrill, author of MEANT TO BE


"Read, read, READ. Oh yeah, and then read some more." - Claire Legrand, author of THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS

"Don't clean your house. The book is more important." - my mom - Nikki Loftin, author of THE SINISTER SWEETNESS OF SPLENDID ACADEMY (I love your mom- Talia)

"At some point, you're going to realize revision is your best friend. Most of us accept this around the same time we accept the fact that our WIP is a POS." - C.J. Redwine, author of DEFIANCE

"There are no "rules" -- figure out what works for YOU. (Also, expect what "works" to keep changing & evolving as you do.)"- Tiffany Schmidt, author of SEND ME A SIGN

"Write something else.  Don't get fixated on one manuscript. Keep writing. Try something new.  Write the thing that scares you."- Lana Krumwiede, author of FREAKLING

"Make your main character do something right away, in the very beginning of your story, that makes him or her likable. Readers root for people they like."- Tamara Ireland Stone, author of TIME BETWEEN US

"As a writing instructor who focuses heavily on craft/theory at times, I would advise people not to overdo it with the study of writing. While it is obviously very useful to study craft/theory, too much "reading about writing" can turn into a diversion that doesn't actually feel like a diversion. One feels very "writerly" when reading about writing. Plus, too much craft input will make your head explode and you'll have nothing but blank pages to show for it."- Colleen Clayton, author of WHAT HAPPENS NEXT


"Take what is useful, discard what is not. Make what remains your own." --Bruce Lee - Jenn Reese, author of ABOVE WORLD


"Always have a pen(cil) and paper with you, because as hard as you try to remember that brilliant idea that strikes at the most inconvenient time, you won't unless you write it down."- Gina Rosati, author of AURACLE


"Forget the rules. Forget the trends. The best book you can write is the one you WANT to write!"- Erin Jade, author of BUTTER

"It's okay that it's taking you so long to write your book. Books take time." -Mike Jung, author of GEEKS, GIRLS and SECRET IDENTITIES


"Endings should be inevitable yet unpredictable." - Sarvenaz Tash, author of THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST


"For any other plotters like me: 'It's not what HAPPENS next, it's what would the characters DO  next.'" - W.H. Beck, author of MALCOLM AT MIDNIGHT

"What is the worst thing possible that could happen to your character?  Make it happen." - Robin Bridges, author of THE GATHERING STORM and THE UNFAILING LIGHT


"Do the work in front of you."- Catherine Knutsson, author of SHADOWS CAST BY STARS

"The sign we kept on the wall in college (very good for first drafts): COMPLETION, NOT QUALITY"- Anne Nesbet, author of THE CABINET OF EARTHS


Great advice and a great idea for a blog post!

-TL Costa

I want this on my wall, especially "Don't clean your house" so my husband can stop looking at me funny...

Great tips. Thank you so much!

Love this post - it's filled with such great advice! I just wish the books and author names linked to their sites so it doesn't take forever to look them all up :)

Awesome collection of advice. Thanks so much for sharing, everyone! :)

So much great advice, and all in one place!

Seriously, it's like the Cliff Notes for Writerly Inspiration.

This is a fatastic post. Thank you! I love it and love you for gathering all this awesome advice for all of us yet to be published authors.

Oh my gosh--this is a treasure trove! Thank you so much.

Wow, so much amazing advice here! Love it all!

THis is Great!! Thanks for gathering it together. OFf to FB it goes!

You can't revise a blank page - this speaks volumes!

So many nuggets of wisdom! Thank you!

As I read that, I felt as if I was attending a writer's smorgasbord! Delicious! I savored every bite!!

Beautiful. Here I am, on the big crisis scene of my WIP, and I am getting new ideas inspired by some of these comments! This was gorgeously presented, too.

Doing NaNo right now, I love seeing that authors think their first draft is a POS!! Cause boy am I there. And I'm making a sign that says Completion, Not Quality!

Excellent post during NaNo! You guys should be some of the NaNo pep talk writers!! Thanks for this!


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