10 Lessons You Can Learn From Studying Prominent Writers
How to learn how to write from well-known authors.
Myself, I daydreamed about creating and publishing a novel from my early childhood. What does it take?
We deal with academic paper writing in higher educational institutions. Some of us take great enjoyment in writing and begin to create short stories. But only a few dare to become professional writers.
Early in the game, you can feel lost. At college, you had instructors that guided academic essay writing. Who can help you now to create fiction? The answer shines through: those who have already become masters. Here are some of their secrets.
1. Start small
One of the most honored American authors in the genres of fantasy, horror, science fiction, and mystery,
Ray Bradbury is a man with a huge bibliography. He advises not to start with creating a big novel. You can spend a year trying to come up with a plot and burn out.
Bradbury’s hint is to practice your craft by writing short stories. If you create 52 stories in a year, it’s nearly impossible not to have at least one good thing among them.
2. Don’t place importance on what people think
Apart from the constructive feedback, you will deal with rude comments on your work. And that should be the least of your concern. Don’t try to please others.
Stephen King believes that every decent writer has been accused of being a waste of talent. Literary critics didn’t always approve of him.
Rudyard Kipling was told he didn’t know how to use the English language. Now, The Jungle Book is one of the world’s most famous children’s books of all time.
3. Read a lot
Ray Bradbury claimed that educating himself in the library was better than college. “You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads.”
Stephen King recommends the beginning writers to get rid of the TV. He finds it “poisonous to creativity.”
Instead, read as much as possible. He suggests bringing a book to waiting rooms and treadmills. Plug in an audiobook while you’re on the bus or walking. It helps to pick up ideas.
4. Write a lot
Some people believe you have to be a natural-born writer.
An individual must be gifted with a magical ability to put words on paper. Such assumptions have a negative influence on your self-confidence.
Most of the masters have gone beyond the normal limits of practice. That’s why they reached extraordinary results. The same is true for writing. Stephen King writes ten pages a day, even on holidays.
Related reading: What To Write About When Your Brain Dries Up
5. Use plain language
The reason for writing is to communicate with the audience.
If you develop an elaborate style with long sentences and jargon, your message can be lost in the mess of words.
Express tricky ideas in clear language. Many grand authors agree on this point.
Ernest Hemingway believed that words should be “simple and vigorous.” He never wrote a single word until it seemed clear to anyone.
You can learn from well-known authors, but you need to develop your unique writing voice.
Stephen King calls the attempts to pattern someone else “pale imitations.” You will never copy the way another person sees and feels the world. You only have a shallow look at vocabulary and plot.
Don’t steal. Focus on developing your story’s events and characters. Your writing voice will sound natural.
7. Use “Chekhov’s Gun” theory
Anton Chekhov is a celebrated short story writer and a playwright. Many of his stories are considered the apotheosis of the form.
His writing advice is: “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise, don’t put it there.”
“Chekhov’s Gun” is a concept that describes how every element of a story should contribute to the whole.
Some details create a mood or describe settings. Some don’t seem important but take greater significance later on.
8. Cut down your text
Editing is an important part of the writing process. And it can be painful.
You kill your darlings. Not people, but your words and sentences. You need to remove all the superfluous exposition. The text will become clearer.
Don’t shorten too much. You may achieve the opposite effect. Some writers leave out adjectives. “As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out.” – Mark Twain said.
9. Be persistent
Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind was rejected by 38 publishers before it was printed.
Agatha Christie’s first book waited five years before publication. Marcel Proust had to publish his works with his money. There are plenty of examples of famous writers being rejected.
Prepare to survive failure and criticism. Never give up on your dream. Tirelessly submit your manuscript until it is accepted. Be ready to promote it.
10. Be passionate about writing or quit
Many young authors are inspired by the successes of the Harry Potter franchise or Dan Brown’s books.
They want to write a bestseller and earn the rest of their living. Others want to get recognized on the street.
Well, dreams are attractive. But what you need is a passion for work. The choice to be a writer is a risky one.
Gertrude Stein submitted poems for 22 years before having one published. Would she have been so consistent if she had focused her efforts on fame or money?
Enjoy creative work. Virginia Woolf advised to “write what you wish to write.” Find your niche.
Lewis Carroll liked to make stories for his friend Alice and her sisters. Some well-known authors are famous for their private journals, like Anais Nin or Anna Frank.
Nobody knows how far you can go. But if you learn from well-known authors, you will find the reward for your work in the work itself.
May it bring you joy!
Jennifer Lockman is a student majoring in Journalism and a freelance writer. She is passionate about literature, art, and blogging. Follow her on Twitter.
3 thoughts on “10 Lessons You Can Learn From Studying Prominent Writers”
Quoting advice about writing from Stephen King is like following a maritime engineering course from the constructor of the Titanic.
Anais nin’s “private” journal? It was a commissioned work totally unpersonal!
This can work as mentorship for us as aspiring writers
Comments are closed.