21 Harsh But Eye-Opening Writing Tips From Great Authors

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

A lot of people think they can write or paint or draw or sing or make movies or what-have-you, but having an artistic temperament doth not make one an artist.

Even the great writers of our time have tried and failed and failed some more. Vladimir Nabokov received a harsh rejection letter from Knopf upon submitting Lolita, which would later go on to sell fifty million copies. Sylvia Plath’s first rejection letter for The Bell Jar read, “There certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice.” Gertrude Stein received a cruel rejection letter that mocked her style. Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way earned him a sprawling rejection letter regarding the reasons he should simply give up writing all together. Tim Burton’s first illustrated book, The Giant Zlig, got the thumbs down from Walt Disney Productions, and even Jack Kerouac’s perennial On the Road received a particularly blunt…

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Could You Point Me To the Real Literature Shelf?


I love Shellie’s thoughts on It-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Linked. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every bookstore thought to do a little more shelf-crossing? I think we all like to be surprised by something we may not have known we’d love. I found some of my favorite books that way.

And it would be pretty great to trick some of the haters into realizing how truly awesome YA books can be!

Originally posted on An Exaltation of Larks:

Like most young-adult fiction writers I know, I spent a good deal of last week thinking about a certain Slate article that claims adults should be embarrassed for reading YA fiction. Hereto that article shall be known as It-Which-Must-Not-Be-Linked.

Many writers and readers have already pointed out the flaws in the piece, for instance, that the author makes sweeping generalizations about the YA genre. Or that genre-shaming is frequently aimed at books for women and children. (And, for that matter, written by women.) That adults can benefit from reading about teen-age experiences. That marketing, rather than quality, defines what is or isn’t YA. And, of course, that no one should be telling anyone what to read.

And then there’s my favorite response to the idea that adults should be embarrassed by what they read:


It’s not like we haven’t had this dust up before…

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3 Tools To Help Writers Stay Motivated This Summer

There’s something about the end of the school year, kids graduating and going off to make their start in the world, that makes me feel like starting something new. For some reason, the month of May was just brutal. I barely ever got my butt in the chair. So, for this summer, I wanted to set some new goals. And STICK TO THEM. It’s easier said than done, but it CAN be done. Whether you’ve written twenty books, or you’re just sitting down to write your first novel, we all need a little help making sure our butt stays in that chair, and our hands on that keyboard.

1. Scrivener

You may already be using this amazing software, but if you’re not, chances are you’ve got research saved in twenty different places on your computer, plot notes scattered between notebooks, and your draft in pieces across different word documents. You might be wary of spending money on another word processor, but trust me when I say that it is SO MUCH MORE than that! One of my favorite ways to use Scrivener is to add character or setting sketches with photos. It really helps to have that image to look at when I’m stuck, and I can let my setting and characters inspire me to keep going.

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I also love to use the Session Targets feature. You just type away and watch that little bar go from red to green. It excites me way more than I’d like to admit…

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There are sooooo many more features. It’s been the best purchase I’ve made since I started writing. Go to Literature and Latte for more information on Scrivener. They even have a 30 day free trial.

2. MyWriteClub

Speaking of motivating little green bars, MyWriteClub is a site where you can also track your progress. BUT there’s much, much more to it than that! You can track multiple projects, and not just word counts. It lets you pick from various unit of measure, depending on your task: words, chapters, pages, percent, to-do items. I’ve used it to track pages edited, books I’ve read, manuscripts I’ve critiqued…the possibilities are endless.
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Clearly, I’ve got some work to do.

But even better–and this is the thing that makes it SUPER motivating–is the social aspect. Add friends, keep up with their progress, motivate them by writing comments on their updates. There’s nothing better than opening up your page to find comments like this:
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The site was created by the husband of a lovely writer friend of mine (shout out to Kayla Olson! Check out her blog here!) who is obsessed with charts and data and all that fun stuff. I’ve really loved using it! You can sign up for My Write Club here. If you do join, make sure to add me as your friend! My username is SharonMorse. I don’t bite. Promise. (I mean, if you’re waving a Cheeto around in the air, you might lose a few fingers, but then who’s fault was that??)

3. Camp Nanowrimo

I’m sure you’ve all heard of National Novel Writing Month, which comes around once a year in November (the absolute most inconvenient month of the year, I might add. But I still do it anyway for some crazy reason). The point is to get 50,000 words onto the page in 30 days time. Well, Camp Nanowrimo, Nano’s less popular cousin (kinda like I was at summer camp), takes place starting this July. It’s a little different than Nano. You have the option to be sorted into “cabins” either with some of your friends and people you don’t know, or with a bunch of random strangers you’ve never heard of. JUST LIKE REAL SUMMER CAMP! Except, no one wets the bed. Hopefully.
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You can sign up for Camp Nanowrimo here.  I should be wrapped up with my current revision soon and ready to start my new project, so I think I’m going to participate this year too! Break out the ‘mallows!



You’re killin’ me, Smalls.

I hope some of these tools will be helpful to you! I’ve got some lofty goals this summer, and I plan on using these to help me reach them. Here’s to a summer full of words on the page!
Happy Writing!