The Practice of Creativity

Best Writing Tips from 2013 Interviews

Posted on: January 6, 2014

One of the best things about having this blog is that I get to interview creative individuals, especially authors. This blog allows me to reach out to new and established writers, after I hear them give a reading or learn about them online, and ask for an interview. Interviewing and helping to promote writers is something I deeply enjoy.

At the end of each interview, I always ask an author: What is the best writing tip you’d like to share?

Below, I have collected the most intriguing answers from writers I interviewed in 2013. Keep this list close at hand. The advice is inspiring and offers a great way to jump-start your new year of fresh writing.

*To see the full interview, click on the author’s name

Al Capehart, Behind Santa’s Smile: Twenty Years as Santa Al
This tip I learned from my writing mentor, Marjorie Hudson: set your timer. Often overwhelmed by too many ideas and feeling the constraints of limited time, simply setting my kitchen timer for 15 minutes and sitting at my writing table with a self-generated prompt gets me started. Another is to draw a circle around a topic statement and brain storm contributing factors as lines connecting to the topic; a structure begins to eventually emerge. And finally, perhaps the most important is to meet regularly with your bright and gifted “writing buddy”, plus develop a writer’s circle of friends for feedback and inspiration.

Clifford Garstang, What The Zhang Boys Know: A Novel in Stories
Something that I have to remind myself of from time to time is that the writing comes first, because that’s the only thing in your control. You can’t do anything about how readers will react, or what an agent or editor will say. All you can do is write the best story or poem or book that you can. So I’ve got a little sign on my desk to help me keep this in mind: Only Write!

Alexis Pauline Gumbs101 Things That Are Not True About the Most Famous Black Women Alive
Write first. Wake up and write first.

Kelly Hashway, Touch of Death
Read as much as you can. Reading great authors is the best form of research in my mind, and it’s fun too!

Rob Kramer, Stealth Coaching: Everyday Conversations for Extraordinary Results.
Write about topics for which you feel passionate.  Otherwise you risk faking it or writing with a false voice.

Dale Neal, The Half-Life of Home
Play hard in the dark. Remember the primal exhilaration of running free through woods and fields on a moonlit night, feeling a howl coming up your throat? Good. Write like that. We are the boy who cried Wolf.

Remember that writing fiction is not a rational activity at this stage of late capitalism and celebrity culture. Very few people will listen, but I can’t think of a more serious game.

Karen Pullen, Cold Feet
I’m working on short stories now, and one lesson I’m learning is how vastly a story can be improved when I do not hesitate to delete. Cut the word count, kill the darlings, minimize explanation, and you’ll increase intensity. An intelligent reader will connect the dots.

Renee Swindle, Shake Down The Stars
Be yourself. Write the story you want to tell and not the story you think you should tell.  Do your best to discover what you’re good at and run with it.  In the meantime, continue to hone the weaker aspects of your writing.  Read a ton. As you read, watch how writers set up scenes and use dialogue and all the rest. Remind yourself that your craft will get better over time, so be patient, show up, and remember that you’re a rock star.



3 Responses to "Best Writing Tips from 2013 Interviews"

I’m honored to have made your list. 🙂

Of course, Kelly. It was great to interview you this time last year.

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Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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