At one point or another in our writing careers, we begin to assess how we can improve and become better at our craft. What we once thought brilliant can seem boring and amateur. When you feel unimaginative, dull, or frankly obtuse, some of the world’s bestselling authors have a few useful pieces of advice.
Stephen King: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot”
Stephen King has sold over 350 million copies of his books and published a total of 54 novels. He has additionally written almost 200 short stories. So it’s safe to say, the man has written a lot. King believes that it is necessary for writers to be well read in order to develop a unique voice in such as saturated field. Additionally, consistent reading is bound to yield a story or two so terrible, it will motivate you to keep writing. If they were able to become a published author, so can you! As for writing, King explains that your first draft is usually entirely too long. The formula for the second draft is “2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%.”
Kurt Vonnegut: “Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.”
Kurt Vonnegut is an American author, responsible for popular titles like Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse-Five. His primary genres were satire, humor, and science fiction. In the Bagombo Snuff Box, Vonnegut outlines 8 rules for a well written short story. A few of the rules are as follows:
- “Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.”
- “Start as close to the end as possible”
- “Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.”
Maya Angelou: “The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.”
A poet, dancer, author, actress, and singer, Maya Angelou lived her life as a true artist. Her autobiographies, including the notable I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, are used in American education classes across the United States and abroad. As for writing, she says that she tries her best to write for at least two weeks straight. Although what she has written may be terrible, she has at least tried, and at some point, what she need to write will suddenly come to her and become something beautiful.
A common theme between all three writers is that through their mistakes, first drafts, and frustration came a master piece. It may not be easy, but resilience is key.