Writing Advice

For those of you who have read my blog posts in the past, you will probably notice that I rarely, if ever, give writing advice. There are a few reasons for this:

  • the way I write and what works for me may not work for you (the actual action of writing);
  • I know what looks right on the page. I have a pretty decent grasp of grammar and language, however, I am NOT a grammatician nor am I a professor of English to speak as an authority on sentence structure;
  • I am not an expert on the reader’s marketplace. I have a good understanding of what is selling now (easily enough found) and I have some opinions on what might sell down-the-road, but that is all they are. Opinions.

The kind of writing advice that I am qualified to give is more about attitude than about form therefore. I have been writing for a long time and I know several things to be true:

  • if you don’t put time into your writing, you will NEVER succeed;
  • if you don’t get good helpful feedback about the quality of your writing, it will likely never (or very slowly) improve;
  • if you don’t have a thick skin about critical feedback and aren’t willing to learn from it, you will never improve;
  • if you don’t have tenacity and perseverence, you will probably not get published;
  • if you are difficult to work with, even if you do get published, you will probably not continue to get published;
  • you get out of your writing what you put into it; and finally
  • people (other people) are critical to your success. Those people start with your readers, but should include your family, friends, editor, publisher, agent, peers, reviewers and many, MANY others. Never forget the importance of others.

I don’t think I’ve said anything magical in any of my points. The unfortunate truth is, if you aren’t willing to fail and fail again without giving up, you will probably never succeed. I’ve talked to many authors who have built great careers on the foundation of early failures. Those rejections helped them to grow and made them strong. It showed them what works and what doesn’t.

The other thing to remember is, success is measured differently by each person. You might consider success to be actually writing something at all. Maybe you just want lots of people to read your work and money isn’t important. Or maybe you are like me and want to make a career out of writing.

Whatever your measurement, I hope you find what you are looking for. This is my advice and my wish for your.



  1. As to your point about needing helpful advice for your writing to improve more rapidly, I recommend seeking a mentorship program or online class if the only people you know are at the same level as your writing. They can be good readers, but won’t catch the kinds of things that a professional will. The past nine months in Team PYP from Port Yonder Press has improved my writing like lassoing a rocket. The difference between the past nine months and the three years prior are not even comparable. SavvyAuthors.com has good classes. There are a ton of writing workshops online if you can’t afford ones like Clarion and Viable Paradise. The Shared Desk’s podcast episode about Amazon (#13) had an agent who pointed authors to her website, which has classes (The San Francisco Writer’s University @ http://sfwritersu.com/).

    Good advice, Mike. Hope your writing is going well. And edits. Can’t forget those.

  2. You make several very good points, Tim. Having that higher level mentorship is key. The critque and advice I’ve received from my editor while working on “Mik Murdoch, Boy Superhero” has taken me to a new level.

    Thank you for weighing in.

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