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Bestselling Authors’ Advice for Aspiring Writers to Inspire Them to Reach for Their Dreams

Bestselling Authors’ Advice for Aspiring Writers to Inspire Them to Reach for Their Dreams

There are days when you feel unstoppable—ideas and words and scenarios just keep coming to you endlessly, your creative tank seems to be overflowing. But there are also times when you feel sluggish, like your engine doesn’t seem to function well or, for that matter, at all.

And that’s okay, you are not alone. We all have days like this; days when writer’s block gets the most of us, and when we say all, we mean the likes of: J.K. Rowling and Neil Gaiman, even Harper Lee and Leo Tolstoy.

If you’re looking for a source of inspiration to continue the chapter where you’ve left off or finally get started working on your writing prompts, you’ve come to the right place. Check out these helpful tips and advice from bestselling authors to keep you inspired and get you going today.

John Green

The other thing I love about writing is that feeling of getting lost and not being stuck inside of myself, not being stuck inside of my mind, frankly. I stopped being able to feel that because I felt constantly self-conscious even as I was typing it. I don’t have a good way to get out of that, except to continue to try. 

Your story matters. Your way of looking at the world matters and it’s particular to you. And sharing that contributes to the overall body of 7 billion humans together on what it means to be human. 

We have to find ways to be vulnerable and be open to each other. To be open to those we care about. For me, that’s a lot of what writing is. It’s a way of trying to strip down all of my protective layers and let myself be vulnerable. Even though that’s scary and it does, sometimes, not work. It does hurt sometimes, I still think it’s worth it.

I think I said in The Anthropocene Reviewed that, “I don’t want to be cool if cool means being cold and distant from the reality of experience.” I want to find a way to feel what there is to feel while I’m here.

Charles Yu

Stop aspiring. Aspiration is a trap. Write and revise. And then revise again. And then revise some more.

(READ MORE: Author Spotlight: Charles Yu) 

Erin Entrada Kelly

Hopefully, young readers who are anxious and stressed or have a lot of fears or are kind of quiet will be seen when they read this. The power of stories to be able to create light when there is no light, that’s what stories do for people. 

(READ MORE: On to Greater Heights: Erin Entrada Kelly Takes the Leap, Overcomes Fears in New Book)

My biggest piece of advice is that a good writer is always a good reader so read a lot of books. Write a lot.

Naomi Novik

My first piece of advice is not to listen to any advice unless it works for you. I can only tell you what works for me, but there are as many answers to that as there are writers.   But for me, I will start writing. 

Then, each line tells me a little bit more about my characters and my world. The first line of the Scholomance was, “I decided that Orion Lake needed to die after the second time he saved my life.”

What does that line tell me? It immediately tells me:

a) My characters are in some place that is very dangerous.

b) My character is angry, and we don’t know why. Why is she so angry? This guy saved her life twice, and she’s mad enough to kill him?

c) It tells me Orion Lake is some kind of hero. He’s going around saving people’s lives.

d) This character is calculating. “I decided he had to die.” It’s not, “I tried to kill him.” A character who would have said, “I leapt at him and tried to beat him to death with my fists,” is a different character than “I decided he was going to have to die.”

(READ MORE: Author Spotlight: Naomi Novik)

The information gleaned from this one line tells me a lot. If you write a corking first line, a line that makes you want to know more, it then makes you ask, “What’s the next thing that happens?” As a writer, you yourself interrogate what that line is telling you. And then you have to respect it. You have to write a second line that could have been said by the same character in the same situation as the first one. And as soon as you do that, you have built the world out a little bit.

Also, I was thinking of the legends of the Scholomance that I knew, so  I did have some sense that that’s where they were. I was remembering this thing I was interested in since I was ten years old. What another writer is interested in - that’s what they have to write about. You have to find something you are interested in and care about, and write about it.   

David Levithan

I think, for me, it’s just to let yourself write. Let yourself try different things. Let yourself fail a lot cause I think everybody expects it’s going to be perfect the first time and it never is. It’s always messy. So when I’m asked for advice, it’s always: let yourself be really messy. And don’t think you’re going to be perfect. 

(READ MORE: #PrideMonth: David Levithan on inclusivity, writing about queerness, LGBTQIA+ representation in books)

What I do is I write a messy first draft. My friends read it. My editor reads it. Then slowly, it becomes the book that you read when it’s printed. But we can never print my first drafts. I think it is: when you have an idea in your head, don’t think about it too much. Don’t think you need to know the ending. Don’t think you need to know every single thing that will happen. Just try writing and see what comes out. See if the story guides you to where you need to be.

Gail Villanueva

Respect your readers. The common critique of an adult reader is that they tend to look down on kids. They make it seem like it’s so simple but they're much smarter than you think.  When I had face-to-face readings with kids before, they asked me the most difficult questions. 

(READ MORE: Sugar and Spite author Gail Villanueva hopes to inspire, empower readers through storytelling)

[It’s a rewarding feeling to] inspire people to write to tell their story. People are gonna tell you, money or fame, but really, no. You run out of money and fame fades away, but the experience of changing someone’s life and inspiring them to write their story to tell the world, that’s something else.

Kevin Kwan

I’m always trying to be a champion of other Asian writers, especially young emerging voices. So I always just say, make it specific. Tell your story. Tell your truth and try to really mine from your experiences. 

(READ MORE: ‘Breath of Fresh Air’: Kevin Kwan Brings Joy Amid Pandemic, Uplifts Hapas in Sex and Vanity)

I’d like to share with you a post I saw the other day on social media. She wrote a new book and she said, the most important advice she can give someone is to “Write the book you’d want to read.” I think those are such simple, but so true words. I did that in Crazy Rich Asians. I wasn’t thinking of getting it published. I wasn’t thinking about it becoming a bestseller, I just wrote a fun thing as a hobby to amuse myself. Look what happened. So I think we all have original stories. For those of you out there who aspire to write, write the book you want to read.

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