When I’m struggling to write, one of the first things I do is look to my favorite writing books and websites in search of advice from published authors. Reading these quotes, tips, and tricks never fails to inspire me and catapult me into a writing frenzy (okay, so it’s not always a frenzy, but at the very least, I get more words on the page than I would have).
Therefore, I created these lists of writing advice to get you going. The first section includes seven standalone quotes to inspire you. The second section is a bit more comprehensive with ten quotes and related action steps for when you’re struggling to start and need that extra push.
So, without further ado… some of my favorite writing advice.
“Our first draft will lead us. There’s always time for thinking and shaping and restructuring later, after we’ve allowed something previously hidden to emerge on the page.” – Dani Shapiro
“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one thing you have to offer.” – Barbara Kingsolver
“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” – Terry Pratchett
“Write down everything that happens in the story, and then in your second draft make it look like you knew what you were doing all along.” – Neil Gaiman
“I write to discover what I know.” – Flannery O’Connor
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison
“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly — they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” – Aldous Huxely
“Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.” – Ayn Rand
“You’re going to feel like hell if you wake up someday and you never wrote the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves of your heart: your stories, memories, visions and songs—your truth, your version of things—in your own voice. That’s really all you have to offer us, and that’s also why you were born.” – Anne Lamott
“Write down as much as [you] can see through a one-inch picture frame.” – Anne Lamott
- Draw a one-inch picture frame on a piece of paper and start writing. Focus on putting down only what you could see through that frame.
“You can sit here and write or you can sit here and do nothing, but you can’t sit here and do anything else.” – Neil Gaiman
- Schedule an hour in your day to do nothing but write. Spend that whole hour either writing or doing nothing, but don’t do anything other than write.
“Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.” – Zadie Smith
- Pick a place and time to write for an hour. Stick to that hour every day for a week and make it yours.
“Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master…Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.” – William Faulkner
- Take a few hours and do nothing but read. Then, immediately start writing.
“Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.” – John Steinbeck
- Write one page a day for a week.
“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.” – William Faulkner
- Sit down and start writing. Don’t be afraid to write badly. Just start and see what happens.
“Act as if you’re a writer. Sit down and begin. Act as if you might just create something beautiful, and by beautiful I mean something authentic and universal. Don’t wait for anybody to tell you it’s okay.” – Dani Shapiro
- Spend an hour writing something authentic. It can be fiction, nonfiction, or anything in between. Just start and be honest on the page.
With Love, Cats, and Coffee 💖,
The Present Active Writer