There’s no shortage of writing advice out there.
You can find it on the Internet.
You can buy it in books.
You can give your first child to take a writing course on the Internet that will leave you with less information then when you started.
Just about every writer’s dream is to be a best selling author.
That’s the pinnacle. That’s the top. That’s where we all secretly see ourselves when we think about the future of our writing careers.
You think about being out on book tour, and meeting fans.
And best selling authors give tons of advice. Often for free, but many authors have books you can read to glean a kernel of wisdom here and there.
Stephen King’s On Writing for instance is usually the gold standard for this.
It’s full of useful, practical advice. I’ve read it a dozen times. Heck, you can basically read it for free, quote by quote, if you read every article about it.
And it’s quite common for authors to give advice to young readers and they stick close to the classics, you know, “Write every day,” “Keep a Notebook”, “Sacrifice a librarian on the Autumnal Equinox.” The greatest hits of writing advice.
You know they think other thoughts. They keep the truth to themselves, and they never want to get too honest lest it sound too harsh.
So, let’s ask a few.
“Oh god, every day I get this question. How did I get so successful? What did I do? How can I write like you? The answer is so simple. Look, anyone can write like me, but no one, I mean no one, wants to write as much as me. I put out a book a month. I get all these whiny kids talking about taking years to write a book and I don’t get it. I’ll write three today if I’m bored. Yesterday I sneezed and fully formed manuscript just popped right out. Look, the answer is easy. Just write. It’s not hard. Sit down and start typing. Every thinks there’s nome magical secret but there isn’t. You all think you want to write but when it come down to it you can’t sit there and type all day. So if you’ll excuse me I need to finish my shopping list which is 97 pages long and has a really weird ending.”
“Well, you see what I wrote the great American love tale and…”
“Mr. Sparks no one else is in the room.”
“Oh,” looks around, “I got absurdly lucky. I wrote one book that was a hit and I just kept writing the same book over and over again. I just changed the names and place and they just kept selling. Like magic. It took twenty years before people started to figure it out. I couldn’t believe it.”
J. D. Salinger
Couldn’t be reached for comment.
“Look, they can tell you all the rules you want but if you come up with an idea that’s gold no one can touch. I threaded the needle so fine on hitting everything a kid wants that now I use hundred dollar bills as wall paper. It’s not about the writing. It’s all about the idea. Come up with something genius and then you get amusement parks.”
“Shhhhh…I’m not supposed to be writing I think you’re looking for Curer Bell.”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
“Whatever you do don’t get stuck writing just one character. You’ll go crazy.”
“Ain’t no crime in rhymin’.”
“Write. Write every day. Write when it is sunny. Write when it rains. Write and write some more. Then get drunk and go fishing.”
“Can’t talk too busy writing.”
“Make good art.”
George R.R. Martin
I reached out to George but the deadline came and I hadn’t gotten a reply yet.
“Just tell dirty jokes and make the masses laugh. Then they’ll study you for the next 500 years.”
E. L. James
“Just kidding no one wants your advice.”
“Oh god, people don’t still think I write books do they? Hey, someone come write this answer for me.”
“Find a great idea for a book and write it with an interesting main character and then stretch that story over three books so that you can get paid three times as much. Also, if you can score a move deal. That’s always a plus.”
“Anything Suzanne Collins said but water it down a little so no one knows I’m copying her.”
“Umm….get Lawrence to do it. And…umm..midichlorians.”
“Fuck it. Throw some dinosaurs in there.”
“Insert famous quote here.”
“First have the ability and the desire to sound like a teenager. Then have an incredibly successful Youtube channel. You can’t miss.”
“Well first, you get a super boring protagonist. Like really, really boring, like library paste boring. Then you put her in a toxic relationship with someone super inappropriate and the books will just fly off the shelves.”
“Can’t talk too busy writing.”
“Ghostwriters baby. Ghostwriters.”