Writing Tips I put on my Wall

When someone calls your story a “slice of life,” that’s the “I like you as a friend” of editing. It means nothing’s happening.

I Keep these three pieces of writing advice and motivation on 3x5 cards next to my desk.

“Every Day. Without Hope, Without Despair”

I got this one from Austin Kleon’s book Show Your Work. He keeps the same note over his desk, inspired by Raymond Carver who kept it over his desk. The quote comes from Isak Dinesen.

I take it as a reminder to show up and do the work. “Without hope,” In other words, without attachment to the outcome or expectations for the finished product. Let the work itself be enough.

And at the same time, work “without despair.” My writing might not go anywhere, and that’s not depressing if getting somewhere isn’t the point.

“Put a Demon in it”

On his podcast, comic Chris D’Elia’s bemoans the trend of “slice of life” movies and suggests that any movie can be improved by adding a demon.

When someone calls your story a “slice of life,” that’s the “I like you as a friend” of editing. It means nothing’s happening.

Writing fiction, it’s your job to make something happen. Write a compelling bad guy, craft serious obstacles and intense forces of antagonism. Put your protagonist through hell.

Ian Fleming’s Recipe for a Bestseller:

“There is only one recipe for a best seller and it is a very simple one: You have to get the reader to turn over the page.” 
 — Ian Fleming

Don’t get fancy. Put one word after another and try to tell a good story.


Does anyone else hang up motivation and tips? What are your favorite pieces of writing advice?