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Writing Tips from Our Lovely Contributors

We've been doing Meet The Author interviews going on two years now, and we figured it was time to compile some of their best advice. "I can’t remember who said it, but this has stuck with me: 'Write the story that only you an write.'" - Laurie Easter

"I tell my students to find their own voice and don’t over edit. I am a firm believer in the Amherst Writers Artist practice in which you write freely on the first draft and only receive supportive praise until you are ready for a second draft. Also, to read what you love." - Deborah Meltvedt

"Don’t romanticize writing. Just do it. Write about what you feel passionate about." - Sheryl St. Germain

"Find a more respectable pastime, immediately! Failing that, surround yourself with other writers. Find a community of writers that you can immerse in. Listen to and give feedback. Don’t stay with whatever your first reaction is to any feedback – even if it’s good. Writing itself is a very solitary act, but I think it’s essential to have people to prop you up when things are rough and celebrate with you when they’re good. I also think that a little edge of healthy competition can keep you on your game. I want my writer friends to succeed, but I also don’t want to be left behind, so I work hard to keep up." - Penny Guisinger 

"Go with your gut. It’s never wrong" - Michael Soloway 

"I think anyone who wants to write has to pay attention to the world around us, the one that functions in real time and space." - Timothy Kenny

"Find great readers, people who will read your drafts with compassion, honesty, and insight. I have two readers who see my earliest drafts. They are my cheerleaders, and they tell me what is and isn’t working. I have other readers who get later drafts, and they help me to see the themes and threads in my work, so I can more fully shape and sculpt the pieces. I have readers who think and feel like I do, but I have other readers who come from very different cognitive, emotional, and spiritual places. This helps me create work that will appeal to as many readers as possible." - Betsy Johnson

"Pay attention, not only to the details and particularities of your world, but also to what truly interests you. Sometimes we force ourselves to write about a topic – or in a particular genre – because we want to be that “type” of writer, when, in fact, we are not exactly passionate about our subject or material. I believe that, especially in the first portion of one’s career, a writer must spend quiet time grounding and copious hours reading in order to ascertain what stirs his or her heart on a level required to facilitate the sustained curiosity, interest, and effort that the craft deserves and demands. Writing is hard enough as it is; writing about something we’re not really invested in is even more torturous!" - Chris Malcomb

"Don’t ask questions about writing. Ask questions about real problems. Then try to answer them and you’ve got an essay. I love that most about essay-writing and essay-reading: the trying." - Mandy Len

"Perhaps the one piece of advice I was never given is second nature to other writers but it wasn’t for me, and it’s probably the most important change you can make:  Stop thinking of yourself as a student, an amateur, a hobbyist, etc.  Stop waiting for someone to tell you that you are good, looking for writer’s groups and workshops, and planning for that big thing you’re going to do some day.  Stop worrying about whether you are good or bad, talented or a hack.  You are a writer.  Trust yourself and go make that good thing." - James Stafford

For other writers out there, what's the best advice you have?