Monday, December 7, 2015

Brilliant Advice (from famous writers)

Author & Editor Sandra D. Bricker
One of the questions I’m asked most often – both as a writer and as an editor – is, “What advice do you have for new, aspiring authors?” … And my immediate thought is always, “Who am I to give someone advice?” In so many ways, I’m still trying to figure it out for myself!

The truth is there are greater minds than mine … talents bigger than mine … names more famous than mine … all of whom are far more qualified than I am to tell writers what it takes to become everything they can be. To prove that, I’ve gone back into my files of articles I’ve written and workshops I’ve taught, and I’ve assembled those slices of guidance I’ve thought valuable enough to offer … and then sought out more exciting mentor types to validate me. You know, in that way we writers often do.

Madeleine L’Engle: “It’s the great writers who teach us how to write.”

See what I did there? So here we go.

Sandie Bricker: “Even though every other pedestrian on the street believes they can write the next great novel, only one in about three million of them actually lift a finger to do the work. What’s the difference between us and them? We can’t help ourselves. We can no more NOT WRITE than they can put their fanny in the chair for eight hours straight in the spirit of telling the story.”

Joss Whedon:  “You either have to write or you shouldn’t be writing. That’s all.”

Sandie Bricker: “You know how they say youth is wasted on the young? I think it’s the same concept with writers. As youngsters, we think we have a compelling story to tell; but very often, it’s not until we’ve put a little life under our belts that we actually have something to say.”

William Faulkner: “Teach yourself by your own mistakes; people learn only by error.”

Sandie Bricker: “Reading is one of the most important skills to develop as you learn to write. And it’s not as much because you want to know what works for other writers as it is because it’s an imperative part of learning your craft.”

Stephen King:  “I am always chilled and astonished by the would-be writers who ask me for advice and admit, quite blithely, that they ‘don’t have time to read.’ This is like a guy starting up Mount Everest saying that he didn’t have time to buy any rope or pitons.”

Sandie Bricker: “Try not to over-think your words on the page, or edit to the point of leaving them raw and bloody. Just tell your story. Get it on paper. You can always edit later if need be, but I can guarantee readers will never respond to your truth if you fail to get it into their hands.”

Tina Fey: “You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it…You have to let people see what you wrote!”

Sandie Bricker: “One of the biggest mistakes new writers make is quitting their day jobs too early, convinced that their road to success will be fast and furious. In the beginning, keep your expectations low, and just write for the sake of improving your craft. The chances are pretty good that you’re not going to make a million dollars and retire on your first book.”

Maya Angelou:  “Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”

Sandie Bricker: “Don’t make the mistake of believing your best friend, your mom, your Aunt Ethel, or your kids’ nanny about your extraordinary talent. The most unfortunate truth in any writing career comes in that moment when your first professional critique disproves every one of them and you realize you are actually not going to be to publishing what sliced bread became to carbohydrate consumption.”

Paul Theroux: “Writing is not figure skating or skiing. Your mother will not make you a writer. My advice to any young person who wants to write is: Leave home.”

Sandie Bricker: “Avoid the mistake of trying to recreate the wheel. In this world of remakes and ‘story inspired by’ sub-titles, commit yourself to developing new and fresh ideas. Let your imagination lead the way and guide you to that idea no one has thought of yet or executed in quite the same way.”

Anne Rice: “The world is crying for new writing. It is crying for fresh and original voices and new characters and new stories. If you won’t write the classics of tomorrow, well, we will not have any.”

So there you have it! My kernels of guidance for new and aspiring authors … and the wisdom of greater minds than mine to prove their validity.


SANDRA D. BRICKER was an entertainment publicist in Los Angeles for 15+ years where she attended school to learn screenwriting and eventually taught the craft for several semesters. When she put Hollywood in the rear view mirror and headed across the country to take care of her mom until she passed away, she traded her scripts for books, and a best-selling, award-winning author of Live-Out-Loud fiction for the inspirational market was born. Sandie is best known for her Another Emma Rae Creation and Jessie Stanton series for Abingdon Press, and she was also recently named ACFW’s Editor of the Year for her work as managing editor of Bling!, an edgy romance imprint for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. As an ovarian cancer survivor, Sandie also gears time and effort toward raising awareness and funds for research, diagnostics and a cure.  

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