Written by A Guest Author July 16th, 2020

8 Lessons From Legendary Authors That Will Improve Your Writing

By Chikodi Adeola Olasode

Are you an aspiring author who’s wondering if it’s the right path? Perhaps you’re one of those struggling with the craft, not sure if being an author is really worth all the stress.

Well, here are eight quotes from eight legendary authors that could make you sit up and fasten your writing belt this minute.

Their opinions just might fuel your passion to give that career as an author a real shot. Here’s what these writers have to say:

1. “When I was teaching writing — and I still say it — I taught that the best way to learn to write is by reading. Reading critically, noticing paragraphs that get the job done, how your favorite writers use verbs, all the useful techniques. A scene catches you? Go back and study it. Find out how it works.” – Tony Hillerman

Trust me when I say it all starts with reading. You discover the awesome craft of writing by reading the works of others. Reading a novel by Anne Tyler exposes you to the inner workings of human beings, just as novels by Stephen King expose you to horror. If you don’t read such, you’ll be ignorant of the narrative intricacies employed to achieve these intriguing effects. Reading widens your horizon and makes you learn how to create fantastic new worlds in your writings.

2. “By the time I was fourteen the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and kept on writing.” – Stephen King

The crux of this lesson is that you shouldn’t expect immediate approval from a publisher after submission. Rejection slips are meant to spur you into action to work harder on your manuscript. They aren’t meant to discourage you into believing you’re a bad writer. It’s just that your work may not suit the needs of a particular publisher at the time. Those slips are supposed to increase your determination to succeed against all odds by submitting to other publishing houses. All authors received rejection slips before approval. Use rejections as spurs to hone your skills while you persist till the end. There’s a light at the end of all tunnels of rejection. Just keep at it.

3. “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” – John Steinbeck

Perhaps you’re wondering how your one-page idea can actually become 70,000 words of solid novel. This advice is perfect for those doubtful of their abilities as authors. Here’s the thing, one great idea is potent enough to birth others that will form an electrifying plot. Imagine you have an idea about a shadow that stalks through the house, another idea will be about the arrival of shadow hunters and a story will unfold from that

4. “Don’t take a creative project lightly.” – Kazuo Ishiguro

Never take your career as a writer with levity because real effort distinguishes a mediocre from an excellent author. Once you decide to become an author, you must ride that cart with gusto. Be sure to give your writing the attention it deserves and wait patiently for the reward that comes afterwards.

5. “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison

Do you know you owe it to yourself to write the unwritten and the untold? There wouldn’t be The Hunger Games and The Lord of the Rings if the authors sat around waiting for someone else to do it, would there? Quit waiting and get writing. Give voice to your wishes on paper and create a world that’s bound to envelop your readers.

6. “I write to discover what I know.” – Flannery O’Connor

When you write, you reveal wells of knowledge on different subjects and aspects of life. Robin Cook’s writings for example takes you to the medical world by an author who was a practitioner at some point in his life. O’Connor thinks you should infuse it into your writing and enlighten your readers.

7. “Write something you are passionate about. Your passion will carry you through the ups and downs of the process.” – Bill Higgs

What Higgs is simply saying is that although writing can be quite tasking, an infusion of passion will allow you glide through effortlessly. Genuine passion will make you forget the rigorous amount of time spent redrafting, editing and re-creating characters and scenes.

8. “Tears are words that need to be written.” – Paulo Coelho

This author’s advice takes the form of a question, “Where is your pain?” While it is true that stories are either intriguing, comical or satirical, pain gives an edge to tragic storytelling. Sadness, trouble, depression and grief must propel you to write a damn good story even if it’s about someone or something else. Quit writing out of a sense of duty and bring your narration to its knees with a heart-rending story! Who knows, you might just win a Pulitzer.

Chikodi Adeola Olasode a.k.a Clairenova is a freelance writer, content provider and poet. You can read her poems at  http://www.novawriteinc.blogspot.com/. She lives with her husband and daughter in Ibadan. 


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