I just finished reading the book, Beautiful Writers by Linda Sivertsen. She runs the Book Mama website and the Beautiful Writers Podcast. In the book, she shares her writing journey and sparks each page with remarkable and honest advice from famous authors we admire.
As a young writer in Los Angeles, Linda Sivertsen was hungry to be more like her literary idols. Fame and fortune seemed to happen so easily—and so fast—for them. But how exactly did these bestselling authors bust through all the obstacles and deliver, day after day, year after year, book after book?
Before I share with you a couple of excerpts from the book, let me remind you that each of us has a unique perspective on life. We are walking dream bearers. The story is always inside of us. And yet, something – time, confidence, life, someone’s remark, “hey, do you know that you can’t write,” or the last place in the Amazon chart – is holding us back.
- Steven Pressfield wrote for 17 years before he sold a single piece.
- Seth Godin sent queries for hundreds of book ideas in one year, and all of them were rejected.
Inspiration, Mindset, Productivity – Writing Advice From Famous Authors
From Seth Godin: “I got nearly 800 rejections in a row (25 each from thirty or so publishers). That’s 800 letters, one at a time, saying, “This is terrible; you will never achieve anything. Go away.” I wasn’t spamming the world with my 800 submissions. These rejections were from real publishers in New York, whose job was to buy real books from people who wanted to make them. But you learn. You don’t keep doing the same thing again and again. You say, “Well, that didn’t work. Let me try something else.” And one day it will…”
If you don’t face the lessons to be learned, then you don’t grow.
From Robert McKee: “People say the young people have a low attention span. I don’t believe that. For people to suddenly not have an attention span would require a change at the genetic level. What people don’t have today is the kind of politeness when they used to pretend to pay attention to something when they really weren’t interested. Young people today, if you don’t interest them, they turn off… The same person that somebody says has a brief attention span will binge 12 or 15 hours of a long-form television series over a weekend. I mean, what kind of attention span does that require? If you are turning the pages of a novel, and you are blown away, the length of the novel is irrelevant!”
Write what should not be forgotten!
From Danielle LaPorte: “For some people, if you wait for inspiration, you are never going to write. And then there are those of us, myself personally, if I’m not inspired, it’s no deal. I just don’t write. I have to wait. I’ve got to hear angels in my studio.”
From Ann Patchett: “No ideas are knocking on my door. Ideas don’t come to me fully formed in visions. I go out and find them. I’ll go looking for them.”
There will always be people who don’t get you or who go out of their way to try and make you feel bad. Don’t let their opinions stop you!
From Deepak Chopra: “I used to debate the haters, but I’ve let that go. If you have the voice of the bully or mean reviewers in your head, and you want to be independent of their criticism, you also have to be independent of flattery. Because they are equally dangerous. You become totally dependent on validation, and then you are either instantly flattered or perennially offended for the rest of your life, and that’s not a good way to live.”
From Nell Scovell: “The only way to move forward creatively is to allow yourself to be judged. I think that rips up women more than men. In general, people don’t love being criticized. When people ask me for advice, I always say – try to see feedback as constructive, not critical. You sit back to make yourself a better writer or to make yourself more confident that what you did evoked the response you wanted.”
Your job is to figure out your best working style and schedule. Then set your life up accordingly. But be flexible…
From Dean Koontz: I get up in the morning, walk the dog, and am at my desk by 7 am. Then I work straight until dinner. I usually do that six days a week. It’s one of the ways the fictional world becomes real to me. For me, a character is almost everything in fiction. If you are not swept away by the character, even the cleverest story won’t work. I want a character who, in the first few pages, comes alive, to the point of where you’re saying: “Where is this person coming from?”
Don’t compare your life as a writer with somebody who’s been doing this for many years. It’s human to be distracted from time to time; it’s in our genes. Maybe your creative rhythm goes by seasons (as for Elizabeth Gilbert), or perhaps you are extremely good at saying no to people who’d like to invite you out (just like Marie Forleo).
From Samantha Bennett: “The best advice I ever read was: “Everything is entertainment.” Even if you are writing a chemistry book, make it entertaining… Now, entertaining does not necessarily mean funny, of course. But it does mean that your writing should be emotionally engaging. It should have a good tempo, suspense, unanswered questions, and a satisfying pace.”
From Nia Vardalos: “Writers don’t really talk about, “I’m going to write a book about…” Writers write. That’s the thing that I try to tell people. TALK LESS, WRITE MORE.”
From Dean Koontz: I don’t outline. I don’t do character profiles. When the character comes onstage and starts to form, I’m trying to get out of the character’s way. This sounds odd to some beginning writers, who say: “You are creating the character. You can’t be surprised by the character.” Oh yes, you can! This character does things that floor me. And sometimes, when I’m writing a book with comic dialogue, I laugh out loud as if I hear it, not as if I’m writing it. Those are the moments when you know the characters because they’re speaking like real people. The way they sound and come off, and what they are doing – it’s not wooden or planned. That’s when you know the fiction is working.”
Let the fact that you want to write be enough of a reason. No one ever said it’d be all blue skies and calm waters… Linda Sivertsen
More info (from Ray): 10 EYE-OPENING WRITING RITUALS FROM GREAT WRITERS
Writing advice from Anne Lamott: 12 Truths from Anne Lamott
Susan Sontag on writing (writing advice from famous authors): Think with words, not with ideas
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