Monday, July 25, 2011


Here are some of my favorite quotes from writers, and tips for better writing:

1. Write to make a point, not a target word count
Vigorous writing is concise. - William Strunk Jr.

While having reached a word count of 60,000 words is impressive, it depends on the quality of those words.

2. Help another edit their writing
I try to leave out the parts that people skip. - Elmore Leonard

Editing other writers often leaves me with more insight into my own work.

3. Write something every day that you do not intend to share
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. - William Wordsworth

I have a private file with rants, beautiful thoughts, outlines, and bits of nothing that stream out of me.

4. Don't get caught up in restating the obvious
The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. - Anaƃ¯s Nin

Try not to be tempted by the low-hanging fruit of easy, sloppy writing.

5. Befriend a dictionary and Thesaurus
The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. - Mark Twain

Imbue, conjure, nefarious... are a few of the words I regard as friends to help me make a point, share an idea, or call something into question. There's a joy in sourcing perfect words and nothing trumps having a word come to mind just as you need its help.

6. Keep a notebook for moments of inspiration
Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable. - Francis Bacon

I use a moleskine to store happenings/sayings/thoughts – it’s like catching raindrops in a drought.

7. Not having a pen in your hand doesn't mean you're not writing
The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes. - Agatha Christie

I like to do a certain amount of planning and to silently try out phrases in my mind before writing them down. Agatha had a point about dishes - there's no such thing as writer's block but there are occasions when washing dishes is a better use of time than staring at an empty screen!

8. Be kind to yourself
Every writer I know has trouble writing. - Joseph Heller

Writing is a monumental task but there's a joy in knowing that we are never entirely alone. We have our writing and with it an entire community of people who care.

If you're a writer or an aspiring writer, I hope you'll say hello.

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