word craft


Q&A: Have you any advice for would-be writers?

circular stack of books

  1. Read. Read. Read. The more you read the bet­ter writer you can become. When you are set­ting out to become a writer it’s more impor­tant to read than it is to write.  Read­ing is the best teacher of writ­ing. My own mantra is: Writ­ers don’t write writ­ing, they write read­ing. And remem­ber, when you write you are writ­ing for read­ers. Hav­ing a jour­nal, keep­ing a diary, is fine, but when you write the way I do (nov­els, short sto­ries, and essays) you are writ­ing for oth­er peo­ple. You want them to under­stand, laugh, cry, feel tense, and so forth.
  2. Nobody, nobody, nobody, writes any­thing very well the first time. One and done won’t work. Real writ­ing is rewrit­ing. I just sent in a new book to a read­er for crit­i­cism, but I think I’ve already rewrit­ten the book eighty or so times. It took the most part of a year. But when I get the cri­tique I will sure­ly rewrite some more.
  3. If you write some­thing once and you think it’s good, you are in trou­ble. Because it is not done. If you write some­thing and you think “this is not so good,” that’s great because you can make it better.
  4. Write what you like to read. If you like sci­ence fic­tion, write that. If you hate mys­ter­ies, don’t write them. Writ­ing what you like to read sharp­ens your self-criticism.
  5. Try not to talk about what you are writ­ing. Don’t explain your writ­ing. If it is not on the page, then the read­er can­not get it.
  6. The eas­i­est way to sense the qual­i­ty of your own work is to read it aloud to some­one. Do so with a pen­cil in hand. You’ll be amazed thaty­ou will notice how many parts of your work can be improved.
  7. And again, read, read, read!

2 thoughts on “Q&A: Have you any advice for would-be writers?”

  1. Avi, Love your hon­esty and sage advice! These pearls of wis­dom work not only for my third-graders but for me, as well. Write on!

  2. I rarely com­ment but want­ed to stop by to say Thank You, and please keep writ­ing these blogs.
    I am work­ing with a small group of 5th and 6th graders in an after­school writer’s “lab”. We are push­ing the bound­aries of what we know and under­stand about writ­ing and writer’s craft. I’ve shared your blogs a cou­ple of times. Know­ing what a it takes to be a great writer helps dis­pel their fears and encour­ages them through the strug­gle of see­ing a sto­ry come to life. We are grate­ful for your guidance.


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