The Best Writing Advice We’ve Ever Received
We asked friends of the site what words of wisdom they keep coming back to again and again—this is what they shared.
I love reading about how other people approach writing — the techniques they use, whether they outline or not, how they mark up a transcript, whether they write messy first drafts or if they clean up as they go. And there’s nothing like being given good old writing advice — the kind you turn to time and time again, that you look to when you’re in a jam, that gives you just the permission you need when you need it most. I’m, of course, not the only one who relishes in and benefits from this kind of guidance, so I asked some friends of Narratively what advice they keep at the top of their writerly tool kits and how exactly it helps them. Here’s what they — and I — had to say.
Go Where the Energy Is
The legendary author and writing professor Cris Beam shared this gem in a nonfiction workshop I was in years ago, and I come back to it all the time. Writing is often hard, but sometimes — let’s face it — it can feel like a downright slog! Rather than begrudgingly fighting through it (unless you’re on deadline and you absolutely must), try working on whatever the thing is that you’re most excited about at that moment. It will show in your writing, honestly, and it will likely be more fun.
– Jesse Sposato, Deputy Editor
A Bad Writing Day Is a Good Reading Day
My wise friend Mary Mann, author of Yawn: Adventures in Boredom, pointed this out to me in an interview I conducted with her a while back: that if she’s having a tough day writing, she can always do more reading/research, and if she’s overwhelmed with reading/research, she can always tinker with her writing. Both make for a productive day. I think about this every time I get frustrated, which is often! It’s one of the best things about nonfiction writing — if you’re having trouble with one, try the other.
– E.B. Bartels, author of Good Grief: On Loving Pets, Here and Hereafter