During the blog tour and marketing efforts for my new book, I have been asked by the majority of interviewers some variation of the following question:
What piece of advice would you give to young writers?
I thought I would share with you what my answer has been.
Over the years I have been lucky enough to be offered an abundance feedback from mentors and teachers I trust. I have also been lucky enough to hear excellent commentary from a few creative people who I admire greatly. There are three ideas that have stuck with me throughout all my writing endeavors. These sentiments helped to get me over the hump and, as Brené Brown would say (or Theodore Roosevelt before her), “Dare Greatly” in my writing.
- When asked about the fears and doubts that she had with her writing, Elizabeth Gilbert–best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love—said she finally had an epiphany that her “writing muse” was telling her that this isn’t her story. If she doesn’t tell it, she bemoaned, then the muse would move on to someone else who will. Ms. Gilbert discussed how freeing this was for her. She was no longer declaring to the reader: “Listen to me. I have something to say.” Instead, she was writing through her muse, her inspiration. It was almost as if she had no other choice but to write. This opened her up to write every day without fear of the result.
- Ira Glass is an American public radio personality and the host and producer of the radio and television show This American Life. He has a great quote for young creatives. In short, he encourages that your work is not going to be good when you’re first starting out. You may have an excitement for your craft and a killer taste for what’s good, but your execution is poor. The only way to improve your work, the only way to close the gap so that your work is as good as your ambitions, is to do a lot of work. Write. Every day. Every week put yourself on a deadline to write something new. It’s going to take a while, but that’s normal. Good writing doesn’t come the first time you sit down.
- Louis C.K. is one of the most thoughtful and innovative comics alive right now. I once heard him speak about his HBO show, Lucky Louie, which was cancelled after one season in 2006. He was asked if he was disappointed and if he looked back at it as a failure. His answer was unequivocally: “No.” For him it was just another experience that taught him how to hone his craft, which was invaluable.
So those would be my three pieces of advice for young writers.
One, don’t worry about whether you have anything important to say. If you are inspired, say it.
Two, write constantly. You won’t become a good writer unless you’re writing all the time.
Three, take every writing experience and use it to hone your craft. Something is not a failure simply because the public doesn’t receive it the way you would like.
Looking for more tips to inspire you and kick your writing into gear? Get Dan Buri’s 40 Tips On Creative Writing now. Don’t miss another opportunity to take your writing to the next level.
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