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11 Great Writing Tips from 11 Great Writers

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It's me again, back at it with 11 writing tips. This time, though, they're from a collection of 11 famous writers.

Like anything else in life, you can learn a lot about writing from the people who are best at it. Of course, by the nature of opinion and the subjectivity of writing, I may refer to a writer as one of the "best" while you may very well think they're shit. That's ok. The subjectivity of writing actually makes the practice of it a bit less intimidating.

Personal preferences aside, there's much to learn from writers of all kinds—authors, songwriters, essayists, screenwriters, playwrights, copywriters, etc...The categories are plentiful, and within each one there are a handful of writers who become deeply revered for their craft. Those are typically the best ones to learn from, because if you're deeply revered for something, then there's a damn good chance you at least know a few good tricks about what you're doing.

Without further ado, I present you 11 great writing tips from 11 great writers.

Elmore Leonard in front of some of his novels, including Rum Punch, which was adapted by Quentin Tarantino in the movie, "Jackie Brown".

Crime fiction Novelist Elmore Leonard (1925–2013) was famous for realistic dialogue, minimal character descriptions, and books that read less like novels and more like screenplays.

#1 Learn to Love Being Alone

"Write what you know: your own interests, feelings, beliefs, friends, family, and even pets will be your raw materials when you start writing. Develop a fondness for solitude if you can, because writing is one of the loneliest professions in the world!"

– J.K. Rowling

#2 Don't Write for Everyone

"Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia."

– Kurt Vonnegut

#3 Make It Funny

"If you can tell a serious story funny, you’re winning."

– Aaron Sorkin

#4 Always Be Writing

"Write regularly, whether you feel like writing or not, and whether you think what you’re writing is any good or not."

– Anne Lamott

#5 Avoid Chasing a Theme

“If I’ve ever had a theme in mind, I mean, usually that’s just the worst. Then you feel yourself writing. And there’s nothing worse than that feeling of, kind of, chasing after a theme.”

– Paul Thomas Anderson

#6 Observe Constantly

"Read, observe, listen intensely, as if your life depended upon it."

– Joyce Carol Oates

#7 Stop Writing Before You Get Stuck

"The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day when you are writing a novel you will never be stuck. That is the most valuable thing I can tell you so try to remember it."

– Ernest Hemingway

#8 Make Your First Sentence a Good One

"What's so hard about that first sentence is that you're stuck with it. Everything else is going to flow out of that sentence. And by the time you've laid down the first two sentences, your options are all gone."

– Joan Didion

#9 Tell the Truth

"A writer should have this little voice inside of you saying, 'Tell the truth. Reveal a few secrets here.'"

– Quentin Tarantino

#10 Use the Right Words

“I find that by putting things in writing I can understand them and see them a little more objectively…For words are merely tools and if you use the right ones you can actually put even your life in order, if you don’t lie to yourself and use the wrong words.”

– Hunter S. Thompson

#11 It Shouldn't Sound Like Writing

"If it sounds like writing, rewrite it."

– Elmore Leonard

Quentin Tarantino looks into the camera while writing a screenplay at his desk, presumably for his new movie.

Quentin Tarantino has been largely influenced by Elmore Leonard's work, and his 1997 picture, "Jackie Brown," was an adaptation of Leonard's 1992 novel, "Rum Punch."

More Writing Tips On the Way

Like these writing tips so much you wish there were more? Don't fret, they're on the way. Over the next few weeks, we'll be rolling out more blogs with additional writing tips so you can continue developing your skills (those that'll one day help you pay the bills).

By the way, if you feel so inclined, let me know what your favorite writing tip was. Thanks, friends. Write on.

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