16 Writing Tips From Famous Authors That Actually Work

In need of some inspiration? Look no further than this inspirational advice from the experts...


The life of an international best-selling author may seem like a world away, but even the most seasoned authors face the same struggles throughout their writing process as the rest of us. So, if you fancy becoming the next John Green or J.K. Rowling, take note!



1. Be Adventurous

‘A lot of people tell writers to write about what they know. And that's good advice, because it gives you a lot of things to draw on. But I always like to add that they should write about things that they love. And by that I mean things that fascinate or excite them personally.’

-Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games trilogy.



2. Write Everyday

‘Try to get into the habit of writing every day. Keeping a diary is an excellent way of doing this.’

-Malorie Blackman, author of the Noughts and Crosses series.



3. Write Everywhere

‘Ted Hughes gave me this advice and it works wonders: record moments, fleeting impressions, overheard dialogue, your own sadnesses and bewilderments and joys.’

-Michael Morpurgo, author of ‘War Horse’.



4. Don’t Wait For Inspiration To Strike

‘...If you're going to write anything that will last - you have to realise that a lot of the time, you're going to be writing without inspiration. The trick is to write just as well without it as with… Amateurs think that if they were inspired all the time, they could be professionals. Professional know that if they relied on inspiration, they’d be amateurs.’

-Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy.



5. Learn To Love The ‘Boring Bits’

‘Let grammar, punctuation, and spelling into your life! Even the most energetic and wonderful mess has to be turned into sentences.’

-Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld series.



6.  Let Your Writing Style Develop Naturally

Stop thinking about your voice. Think about your life instead. Live. Take risks. Seek wisdom. Confront the unconfrontable. Find out who you are. Let your voice gain power as you go. Then write your book.’

-Meg Rosoff, author of ‘How I Live Now’.



7. Don’t Give Up

‘You have to resign yourself to the fact that you waste a lot of trees before you write anything you really like, and that’s just the way it is. It’s like learning an instrument, you’ve got to be prepared for hitting wrong notes occasionally, or quite a lot, cause I wrote an awful lot before I wrote anything I was really happy with.’

-J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series.



8. Make Your Descriptions Mean Something

‘Choose your details carefully. A description should be vivid, but surgically precise. The detail must be given for a reason, and have a logical connection to the plot or advancement of character. Avoid long “grocery lists” of details. For a paragraph-length description, offer a uniting theme – an extended metaphor – to give the details cohesion.’

-Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.




9. Don’t Write For Fame

‘Make gifts for people — and work hard on making those gifts in the hope that those people will notice and like the gifts. Maybe they will notice how hard you worked, and maybe they won’t — and if they don’t notice, I know it’s frustrating. But, ultimately, that doesn’t change anything — because your responsibility is not to the people you’re making the gift for, but to the gift itself.’

-John Green, author of ‘The Fault in Our Stars’.



10. Accept That You Can’t Please Everyone

Hold the reader’s attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don’t know who the reader is, so it’s like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What ­fascinates A will bore the pants off B.’

-Margeret Atwood, author of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’.



11. Celebrate Your Unique Talent

‘[as a] starting writer, you always start out with other people’s voices — you’ve been reading other people for years… But, as quickly as you can, start telling the stories that only you can tell — because there will always be better writers than you, there will always be smarter writers than you … but you are the only you.’

-Neil Gaiman, author of ‘Stardust’ and ‘Coraline’.




12. Think Outside The Box

‘Dare to ask, “Where is my novel too simple?” It’s not always about writing more words or drinking more coffee. Sometimes getting to the end of a novel simply takes remembering that the world is more complicated than we know, and then sticking some of those complications into the story.

-Scott Westerfeld, author of the Uglies series.



13. Grow A Thick Skin

‘If you want to be a good writer, you have to be a little like people who do extreme sports. For me, critique always hurts. But I keep throwing myself back into it because I love to write-- and not just to write, but to see my writing improve over time.’

-Veronica Roth, author of the Divergent trilogy.



14. Write For Yourself

‘Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself... It's a self-exploratory operation that is endless.’

-Harper Lee, author of the ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.



15. Don’t Be Discouraged By Failure

‘Don't be afraid to fail. I fail every day. I failed thousands of times writing The Book Thief, and that book now means everything to me...Failure has been my best friend as a writer. It tests you, to see if you have what it takes to see it through.’

-Markus Zusak, author of ‘The Book Thief’.



16. Build Yourself A Writing Community

FIND YOURSELF A CRITIQUE GROUP. Notice the annoying usage of all-caps there. A critique group will change your life (find one on Movellas!). Week in and week out you can meet with a few friends who also like to write, people who understand you, people who are as weird as you, people who are as oblivious as you are to the pundits who say you can't do it. Help each other, read aloud, be honest, grow thick skin, push each other. Start searching for these whackos today.’

-James Daschner, author of The Maze Runner series.

What’s the most useful piece of writing advice that you’ve been given? Let us know in the comments!


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