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Sunday, September 30, 2012

10 Writing Tips From The Masters by Joan Reeves

The masters of the written word are often quoted -- especially the quotations that follow.

When I started writing, about the time Conestoga wagons rolled across the mountains, I found the following bits of advice not only inspiring and useful but also entertaining and witty.

Times Change

Of course, times change. To reflect our current world, I've inserted my editorial comments where appropriate.

1. You must write. You must finish what you write. You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order. You must put it on the market until sold. (Robert A. Heinlein) Joan says: True in 1949. Not so true today. Sometimes, a good book just won't sell. TGFI. That's Thank God for Indie!)

2. I try to leave out the parts that people skip. (Elmore Leonard) Joan says: Amen!

3. When in doubt, have two guys come through the door with guns. (Raymond Chandler) Joan says: I'm going to try this with my next romantic comedy.

4. Never let a domestic quarrel ruin a day’s writing. If you can’t start the next day fresh, get rid of your wife. (Mario Puzo) Joan says: Or your husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, dog, cat, or Internet addiction.

5. The difference between using the right word and the one that is almost right is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. (Mark Twain) Joan says: Absolutely still true.)

6. Never mistake emotion for action. (Ernest Hemingway) Joan says: Also true.)

7. Never look at a reference book while doing a first draft. (Stephen King) Joan says: Yep. Research and fact checking: great ways to bog yourself down.

8. If you wish to be a writer, write. (Epicetus) Joan says: Oh, yeah! Writers write. Everyone else makes excuses.

9. Read, read, read. Read everything - trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window. (William Faulkner) Joan says: No. Print on the second side then shred and put in recycle bin.

10. There’s no such thing as a born writer. It’s a skill you’ve got to learn, just like learning how to be a bricklayer or a carpenter. You’ve got to write X number of words before you can write anything that can be published, but nobody is able to tell you how many words that is. You will know when you get there, but you don’t know how long it will take. (Larry Brown) Joan says: Oh. My. God. So true.

Post Script

Go forth and write.

(Joan Reeves writes funny, sexy romance with a chick lit attitude. She's a bestselling Kindle author and is multi-published in print. Now her popular romantic comedies are available on audio book at iTunes and Audible.com. Joan publishes the popular blog SlingWords and Writing Hacks, a free newsletter for writers.)


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Mona. I was up in the Dead Zone when this published. Just now getting to comment.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Mary. Please do pass it on. I was unavailable to Tweet it or anything while I was gone.

  3. Joan, I loved this post. Thanks for adding your take on the tips. Fun reading.