In our fourth edition of Writing Advice from Famous Authors, we bask in the writerly wisdom that Anne Rice has to offer. If you don’t know Anne Rice—and even if you think you don’t, you still probably know of her—she is a fascinating author, and quite a successful one at that. Here’s how her wikipedia page describes her writing: “[Rice] is an American author of gothic fiction, Christian literature, and erotica.”
Wait, what? Yep, she has published books in all three of those genres. Brilliant.
Anne Rice may be best known for her debut novel Interview With the Vampire, a book that was rejected time and again for three years before finally seeing the light of day and getting published in 1976. It went on to become a bestseller. Any of you out there that are feeling down because of all the rejections we hear as writers, know that even some of the great books and great authors have walked the same plight. one of the best traits a writer can have is perseverance.
Rice also wrote the bestselling Exit to Eden, another book adapted to become a major motion picture, under the pseudonym Anne Rampling. She has sold nearly 100 million copies of her books, making her one of the most successful American authors in recent history. Needless to say, we can probably learn a thing or two from her about writing.
Here is Anne Rice in 2012. The video is a little long in the tooth, but there is some excellent advice to be gleaned.
“Write. What makes a writer is writing.”
If you’re a long time reader of Nothing Any Good, you know that this is probably the main tenant I wish for everyone to take away from here. Write.
Yes, review, read, edit, learn, ask questions, and on and on, but it’s all a waste of time if you don’t actually write. The best way to learn how to become a better writer is to write. It’s the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000-hour rule. Write as much as you can!
Rice goes on to say, “Writing to a person like me and asking for advice is, in a way, a waste of time.”
Harsh, but true. Asking for writing advice is, often times, a form of procrastination. We all do it. We all have clever ways to feel like we’re working when we’re not in fact writing. Asking for writing advice is one of them.
[clickToTweet tweet=”‘Write. What makes a writer is writing.’ – Anne Rice #writerslife #amwriting” quote=”‘Write. What makes a writer is writing.’ – Anne Rice #writerslife #amwriting”]
“Kick out the pages everyday…and save them.'”
This is important advice. For a brand new writer, it’s probably second nature to save your pages. You haven’t written very much at all, so the pages you have written are precious. You would never dream of tossing them out, (or deleting them from your computer).
For the more seasoned writer, you know that there are days or weeks or even months where you feel everything you write is garbage. You just hate what you’re churning out. Don’t delete it.
Resist the impulse to chuck it and start anew. You never know when it will become worthwhile again. It may not be useful for the manuscript on which you’re currently working, but at some point, maybe years down the line, you may find that it sparks new life into your writing and is quite valuable indeed.
“Every year somebody makes it to the bestseller list who started out…in their bedroom writing late at night.”
Never forget this. It’s good to have dreams. Again, one of the greatest traits of a successful writer is perseverance.
“The publishing world today is crying for new voices, new visions, new stories, new characters.”
I find that quite often Indie Authors are trying to emulate another author’s voice. Reading a lot is great. Gleaning writing tactics from other successful authors is advisable. Trying to copy another author’s voice, however, is a surefire way to waste everyone’s time.
As Rice says, nobody wants “somebody that sounds just like Anne Rice, or Stephen King, or Oscar Wilde, or Danielle Steele. They want an original voice.”
Find your voice. Become your own author. Don’t copy someone else in order to try and “make it.” You’ll fail. Trust me, you’ll fail. Readers don’t want a copycat.
“Go where the pain is.”
I love this. This is wonderful advice. It’s something that we should probably follow in our daily lives as well, but certainly as writers. We avoid pain too much as writers. In fact, I like this so much that I tweeted out something similar last week before I even knew Anne Rice had offered the same advice.
— Dan Buri (@DanBuri777) December 15, 2016
Don’t avoid the uncomfortable subjects. Find that pain and write about it.
“Go where the pleasure is.”
Rice says, “Write the book that’s interesting to you.” Then later explains that if the book becomes boring to you, don’t give up on it, think about “what do I have to do to make it exciting to me.”
I think we often times forget this as authors, particularly the part about becoming discouraged once the book we’re writing begins to bore us. Instead of going where the pleasure is, we try to just plow through and make it work. We would all, writer and reader alike, be better off if us authors asked ourselves more often, “Is this interesting to me?”
“Never revise [your] book because you got a rejection from an editor with a bunch of negative advice.”
This advice was quite profound to me. It may seem obvious and simple, but I think that’s what makes it so wonderful.
Advice from someone that hates your work isn’t going to be good advice. They clearly don’t get it. Don’t change anything to try and please them. It’s a waste of time because they either aren’t your target reader or they didn’t give your book a fair shake. Any advice they give is going to be advice that leads your book astray.
Rice goes on to say, “Wait until you get a letter from an editor that says, ‘We really love your book. We’d like to publish it, but do you think…'”
That’s when you take the advice to heart. That’s when the advice is going to have the best interest of your writing in mind. By all means welcome that kind of advice with open arms, but reject the advice of the editor that hates your work from the start.
I really love this.
“The only thing between you and realizing your dreams as a writer is yourself.”
This is a perfect place to end and it brings us back full circle. Rice begins by telling us to write and finishes with a variation on the same advice.
Being a writer is one of the only professions that is completely accessible to you right now at this very moment. The only thing stopping you is your belief that you can do it. Sit down and write. You can do it.
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