Writing Advice

So I’ve made it pretty obvious to you all that my main goal in life is to be a writer. I want to WRITE. I NEED to write. I write almost everyday, between writing my novels and writing on this beloved blog of mine. And one question that I always have for authors whenever I meet them is this:

What advice do you give to young writers?

And I’ve decided to start a little page here for the advice that I get, for me and for all of you! Hopefully this page can grow as I meet authors, both online and in life, and I can share their wisdom with you!

Please note that all of the advice given below by the authors were either directly quoted to me, emailed to me, or were questions answered in a meet and greet where I attended or an online chat that I participated in. I didn’t search the web for these, I went out of my way, gladly, to bring you some great advice from some great writers.

I also got a ton of these from my “writing advice” poster that I’ve taken to several events.


Writing Advice:

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Cassandra Clare, author of the Mortal Instruments series and the Infernal Devices trilogy

From the autograph/meet and greet at the Mission Viejo Library on 3/22/13

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Lauren Oliver, author of Before I Fall, Leisl and Po, The Spindlers and the Delirium trilogy 

From the autograph/meet and greet at the Mission Viejo Library on 3/10/13

Also: “It helps to be self-confident, bordering on delusional”, on being a writer.

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John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars, An Abundance of Katherins, Looking for Alaska and more

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Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries series, the Heather Wells series and so many more. 

“Write the kinds of stories you like to read. If you don’t love what you’re writing, no one else will, either.”

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Libba Bray, author of The Gemma Doyle trilogy, Going Bovine, Beauty Queens and The Diviners. 

“1. Read. Read books, graphic novels, plays, short stories, poetry, haiku, and grocery lists. You can’t learn how to write if you don’t read. (And grocery lists help you remember to buy milk. Just sayin’.)

2. Take risks and be brave. No one will write exactly the way you do. So take some risks and put yourself out there on the page. If you think, ‘I probably shouldn’t write about this…’ or ‘This is too weird/revealing to write about…’ that’s probably the very thing you should put into your story.

3. Have fun.”

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Megan from The Nerdy Girlie blog

“My advice to young writers is to carve out a specific time each day to do your writing. I’m not normally a morning person, but I started setting my alarm to go off every day at 7 a.m., and that has helped me get into a writing routine. Stick to your routine and just do it. Don’t slack, don’t get side-tracked. If you want to be a writer you have to take the time and put in the work. It is tough at times, but always worth it in the end! A little bit every day is what it takes to see progress in your writing.”

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Carol Snow, author of Just Like Me, Only Better, Getting Warmer, Switch and many more.

“You can’t run before you walk. (Well, unless you’re my son, but he spent most of his toddler years covered in bruises.) Likewise, you should make sure your writing skills are solid before you even begin to think about publication. Read Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. Then read it again. It’s the best resource out there.”

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Deb Caletti, author of Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, The Nature of Jade, The Story of Us, and many more. 

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Ally Condie, author of The Matched trilogy 

In response to questions asked during an author chat on GoodReads, 3-12-13

“Writing a novel for me is hard work. It’s also very fun. There are days when it feels like I never want to stop and other days when it’s hard to get started. I think it’s like any creative process–there’s a certain amount of inspiration and also a certain amount of just pushing through and doing your best.”

“Also, my final piece of advice-live an interesting life. That will give you inspiration. I don’t mean that your life has to be interesting to anyone else. A lot of people might think my life–living in Utah, mom to four kids–would be boring. But its fascinating to me and that’s what makes the difference. I find lots of moments for inspiration in the day-to-day of what I do.”

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Rae Carson, author of The Girl of Fire and Thorns, The Crown of Embers and the upcoming, The Bitter Kingdom.

“Never let anyone make you ashamed of what you love to read and write. Always pursue your passion, and write/read relentlessly and shamelessly.”

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Susane Colsanti, author of When It Happens, Something Like Fate and other excellent YA novels. 

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Cinda Williams Chima, author of the Seven Realms series and the Heir Chronicles

“1. Focus on craft first. Trying to market a bad book is like trying to roll a boulder up hill: lots of sweat and very little progress. The very best thing you can do to promote your book is to write a great book.

2. Never be afraid that all the good ideas are taken. No one has the same body of experience, the same sources for the story that you do. Give two writers the same idea, and they will write totally different stories.

3. Read.

4. Put your butt in your chair and write. Writing is like any other skill-it takes a lot of practice. No one would expect to succeed at Wimbledon without spending a lot of time on the court. Nothing happens until you sit down and write.

5. Take risks in your writing. The great thing about writing is that it’s easy to take apart and put together again, to add and to take away. So write those things you’re afraid to write, go to those hard places, and then decide what stays and what goes.

6. It’s not so much about the idea, but the execution. Really, it is.”

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Jessica Brody, author of 52 Reasons to Hate my Father, Unremembered and more. 
In reponse to my statement, “I’m trying to be a writer”. 
“Don’t try to be a writer, just be one.”
Jessica emailed me later, and she remembered me from WonderCon and gave us this advice!
“Don’t be afraid to write badly. All writers have awful first drafts. That’s why they’re called first drafts. Sometimes you have to just get through the story before you can make it pretty. I think a lot of new authors quit halfway through the book because they’re afraid that it’s not good. The first draft won’t be good. Just finish it and fix it later. The hardest part about writing a book is getting to that last page. and remember, it’s okay to write crap. Crap makes really good fertilizers :).”
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Cecil Castellucci, author of The PLAIN Janes, The Year of the Beasts and more.
At the Heroes vs. Villains panel at WonderCon 2013, March 31st, on how to write a good character. 
“Every good character should have the five things that Superman has:
1. a SuperPower
2. Something that he/she loves
3. a Weakness
4. an Enemy
5. a Secret Hiding Place”
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Andrew Smith, author of Winger, Marbury Lens and more. 
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Suzanne Young, author of The Program

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Kimberly Derting, author of The Bone Finders and The Pledge trilogy

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Jessi Kirby, author of Golden, Moonglass and more.

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Carrie Arcos, author of Out of Reach

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Lex Thomas, duo authors of Quarantine 

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Leigh Bardugo, author of the Grisha Trilogy 

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Gretchen McNeil, author of Possess and Ten 

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Stephen Chbosky, author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl series, The Supernaturalist, Warp, and more.

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Suzanne Lazear, author of the Aether Chronicles 

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Jessica Brody, author of The Karma Club, My Life Undecided, Unremembered and more

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Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of the Lost Cities series and Let the Sky Fall series

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Sara Wilson Etienne, author of Harbinger

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Jennifer Bosworth, author of Struck 

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Morgan Matson, author of Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour and Second Chance Summer

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Ann Stampler, author of Where It Began and After Party 

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Sarah Ockler, author of Bittersweet, Twenty Boy Summer, Fixing Delilah and more.

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More Coming Soon!