Eclectic Voices

Fiction, Monologues, Plays & More

Writing Advice from Writers


a note from Eclectic Voices Coordinator, Chelsea Sutton

It’s a new year, and a lot of us are making resolutions to better ourselves – it’s easy to get lost in the trenches of your life and wander off whatever path you happen to be on.  This issue of our journal features two monologues, LINE! and My Body in Abstract, which are about just such a journey (being lost and trying to find your place again, so to speak.)

This is also the time when some of us may be looking for a little advice – and for you writers out there, I decided to gather together some of my favorite advice from writers I’ve stumbled across.  Take a look and if you have any favorite quote or list or video, please share in the comments!

What are your writing resolutions this year?

To start this off, check out Neil Gaiman’s recent advice to an aspiring writer.

A few lists of advice:

Margaret Atwood’s Ten Rules for Writing, published on Aerogramme Writers’ Studio.
My favorite: Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.

Zadie Smith’s Rules for Writers, published on Aerogramme Writers’ Studio
My favorite: Don’t confuse honours with achievement.

Writing Advice from Elmore Leonard, published on Aerogramme Writers’ Studio.
My favorite: Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”

Writing Tips from Henry Miller, published on Open Culture.
My favorite: Keep human! See people; go places, drink if you feel like it.

Writing Tips from George Orwell, published on Open Culture.
My favorite: Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Writing Tips from Neil Gaiman, published on Open Culture.
My favorite: The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

Rules of Writing from Jack Kerouac (we’ve shared this on this blog before, but it’s a favorite of mine), published on Lit Drift.
My favorite: Be in love with yr life

Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Rules for Writing (also probably shared these at some point.)
My favorite: Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them-in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

22 Rules of Storytelling According to Pixar.
My favorite: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

Joss Whedon’s Top 10 Writing Tips, from Aerogramme Writers’ Studio
My favorite: Even if you’re writing a Die Hard rip-off, have something to say about Die Hard rip-offs. The number of movies that are not about what they purport to be about is staggering. It’s rare, especially in genres, to find a movie with an idea and not just, ‘This’ll lead to many fine set-pieces’.


A few quotes from the wise:

The first draft of everything is shit. -Ernest Hemingway

If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy. – Dorothy Parker

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

If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time — or the tools — to write. Simple as that. – Stephen King

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ― Ray Bradbury

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report written on birds that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.” ― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

“It’s a great lesson about not being too precious about your writing. You have to try your hardest to be at the top of your game and improve every joke you can until the last possible second, and then you have to let it go. You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it…You have to let people see what you wrote.” ― Tina Fey, Bossypants


And a couple videos to check out:

Advice from Matt Stone and Trey Parker

An Evening with Ray Bradbury

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This entry was posted on January 12, 2015 by in Blog and tagged , , , , , , .
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