The 7 Secrets of Writing From the Best Writers in the World
Despite what certain Silicon Valley companies might want you to believe, writing well, by hand, is one of the keys to a satisfying life and a healthy mind. Writing by hand and then publishing digitally on platforms like Medium is the perfect combination. You get the tactical feedback and ability to write things down manually, and then decide what parts of it you should publish into the digital ocean. Sidenote: when you do decided to publish into that digital ocean, please feel free to submit your piece to The Mission! If it’s a good fit, we’d love to help promote your work.
November is national novel writing month (NanoWriMo) abroad, and locally at The Mission, it’s our Reading and Writing month all month long! Make sure you’re subscribed to our daily newsletter so you don’t miss any other ideas, tips, and tactics about reading and writing.
Without further ado, here are 7 little known secrets from world class writers.
1. The best writers fight to master themselves
Would you have a great empire? Rule over yourself –Publilius Syrus
Either you’ll be a loser that always relies on inspiration from others to get to work, or you will rule over yourself and do what you set out to do. If you’re going to write, rule over yourself. Nobody is perfect at it, but the writers who are even modestly successful at ruling over themselves are the ones that dominate the industry. Be a tyrant over yourself, but also give yourself a break. Remember that even Dostoyevsky couldn’t stop himself from gambling!
2. The best writers are the ones that read the best books
Read a lot. Reading really helps. Read anything you can get your hands on. –JK Rowling
She’s not joking. If you don’t consume the best raw material and inputs, how could you possible create any great outputs? Read the best books you can find, and don’t be afraid to read them many times (even the books you loved from your childhood!).
If it’s a good book, anyone will read it. I’m totally unashamed about still reading things I loved in my childhood. –JK Rowling
And remember, if you’re not feeling one book, drop it and go onto the next one. If it feels like reading is a chore, keep searching for the right book.
If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book. –JK Rowling
3. The best writers are those that get direct experience in the REAL world
Michael Crichton’s books, movies, screenplays, and non-fiction writing was decades ahead of his time. I often wondered about how he got some of his ideas for his fiction writing. When I finally got around to read his autobiography, it was instantly clear.
Crichton was a huge advocate of “direct experience” in the real world. He believed that the digital filters, information sources, and media was clouding our view of the real world and experiences we could have in nature. Almost every single fiction book that Crichton sold (out of the 250M or so he sold!) was inspired by some form of “direct experience” he had in the real world.
I eventually realized that direct experience is the most valuable experience I can have. Western man is so surrounded by ideas, so bombarded with opinions, concepts, and information structures of all sorts, that it becomes difficult to experience anything without the intervening filter of these structures. And the natural world — our traditional source of direct insights — is rapidly disappearing. –Michael Crichton
Seek out new adventures and experiences. Get direct experience without the digital filter of your smartphone, friends, or anyone else. Get lost in nature, and you’ll be cored to come face to face with new ideas.
4. The best writers write, every single day
It’s a cliche, because it’s true. One of the most prolific and obsessive daily writers is Stephen King. You can’t writer hundreds of novels unless you write, every single day.
Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.―Stephen King
5. The best writers aren’t afraid of showing their emotions
No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader. –Robert Frost
Write what moves you emotionally. Believe that you can write something that will make yourself cry, and you will. Believe that you can surprise yourself with your writing, and you will. That astonishment will carry over to the reader.
6. The best writers write what society and culture hates
You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children. –Madeleine L’engle
Culture tends to turn it’s nose up at emotions that are not convenient for culture. Most parts of society and “culture” are, in fact, a cult. The second you write anything that makes the larger group uncomfortable, watch out. For writers, the only safe way to share controversial ideas is through stories that are so simple, they appear as “children’s stories”.
7. The best writers don’t have formal education in writing
The imagination cannot and must not be policed. –Camille Paglia
The writers who get more “education” before they write end up creating books that resonate with those who have had the most education. Education, if left to it’s own devices, becomes the practice of first limiting, and then policing the imagination.
The best writers do not police their imaginations. They do practice prudence, and they do censor themselves sometimes when they publish work publicly. But this doesn’t mean that they don’t hide esoteric ideas inside exoteric stories.
In closing, the best writers…
- Master themselves
- Read the best books
- Write every day
- Aren’t afraid of showing emotions
- Write what society hates
- Don’t have formal education