Writing Wisdom From Bestselling Authors

by Ramana Ganger

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”  – Maya Angelou

Writing is one of the most exhilarating experiences for a writer – it’s filled with excitement, passion, dedication, intensity, and exhaustion. You have a story inside you that you want to let out into the open, but you are not sure how to go about it.

Writing requires a certain level of commitment and time, and other things demand your attention too. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is your golden ticket to ditching the procrastination and get writing that 50,000-word manuscript in a month. Think that’s not achievable? Think again!

Here is some writing wisdom from bestselling authors:


1.   Make A Plan For Some Guidance.

“If you do enough planning before you start to write, there’s no way you can have writer’s block. I do a complete chapter by chapter outline.” – R. L. Stine

Going in for the kill without a plan is the worst thing you can do. You end up getting stuck with no clear direction, and no idea of how you intend to tell your story. What will you know about your characters, and how their journey will pan out in each chapter?

The last thing you need is your lack of planning to manifest into writer’s block. According to R.L Stine, having a plan is the perfect way to avoid this.


2.   Do Your Research, But Don’t Let It Overshadow Your Story

“If you need to do research because parts of your story deal with things which you know little or nothing, remember that word back. That’s where research belongs: as far in the background and the backstory as you get it. You might be entranced with what you’re learning […] But your readers are probably going to care a lot more about your characters and your story.” – Stephen King

If your story is about one big space adventure, or your main character happens to be Vlad The Impaler, you might want to do your research. Although you might need to do some serious research, Stephen King suggest that you should not let your research overshadow your story.


3.   Guard the allotted time of your writing days.

“Be ruthless about protecting your writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have “essential” and “long overdue” meetings on those days. […] Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance. I must therefore, guard the time allotted to writing.” – J. K. Rowling

Everyone has a life that is proactive and busy; it leaves you wondering when you will get a spare moment to write your novel. Time does not wait for anyone. J. K. Rowling advises that you should protect your writing days.

4.   Tell The Stories That Only You Can Tell.

“Tell your story. Don’t try and tell the stories that other people tell. Any starting writer starts out with other people’s voices. But as quickly as you can start telling, the stories that only you can tell, because there will always be better writers than you, and there will be smarter writer than you, but you are the only you.” – Neil Gaiman

There are centuries worth of stories, each written by writers of the past and present. Writers have their own voice and style, telling the stories that only they can tell. Let’s face it; no one else could have written Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. Neil advises there will always be better writers than you, but there is only one you. Tell the stories that only you can tell.


5.   Make Sure What You’re Writing Is Exciting To You.

“Go where the pleasure is.”Anne Rice

Sometimes you might feel a little discouraged because what you are writing begins to bore you – that doesn’t mean you should quit! When cooking, we don’t leave our bland recipe halfway, but we add some more salt, spice, or something nice. The Vampire Chronicles author, Anne Rice suggests that you do not give up, but think about what you can do to make the story exciting to you. Hence she advises:


6.   Let Real People Inspire Some Of Your Characters.

“There was a curious local character, an old man who used to go about sweeping gossip and weather-wisdom and such like. To amuse my boys I named him Gaffer Gamgee, and the name became part of family lore to fix on old chaps of the kind. At the time I was beginning on The Hobbit. The choice of Gamgee was primarily directed by alliteration, but I did not invent it. It was caught out of childhood memory, as a comic word or name. It was in fact, the name when I was small (in Birmingham) for cotton wool.” – J. R. R. Tolkien. 

It might not sound ideal, but this is something that even the best authors do. J. K. Rowling’s chemistry teacher was the inspiration behind Professor Snape, and what a great character Snape turned out to be. Getting inspired by real people does not suggest you copy the person’s entire life story. Just add a quirk or small detail here and there to create a distinctive character.  

7.   Read, Read, And Read More.

“Novels that last and please readers are written because the novelist is intoxicated by the delight and the endless renewable joy that comes from engaging with imaginary characters – with story, and that engagement always begins with reading; and if it catches you, it never lets go.” – Phillip Pullman

There is not one single author that doesn’t recommend you to read, read, and read more – Nicholas Sparks advises this, so does Virginia Woolf and J. K. Rowling. There is something magical about getting lost between the pages of a good book, where you can connect with every character on an emotional level. 

Now that you have been given some motivation, it’s time for you to write that 50,000-word manuscript. Good luck writers, we can’t wait to read what you have written!

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