10 Unconventional Writing Tips from Pulitzer Winning Writers

You’ll notice they’re not the typical advice.

Linda Caroll
Jan 30, 2020 · 16 min read

I wondered if Pulitzer winners talk about writing.

Reading these tips, you’ll notice there’s none of the typical advice.

We learn in levels…

10 Unconventional Writing Tips from Pulitzer Winning Writers

1. Pulitzer, 2019: Richard Powers, The Overstory

photo credit, Wikipedia

The best thing for a writer to learn is how to be still and pay attention, whether it’s paying attention to the way people talk, behave or treat each other.

Be present, practice attention, and the story you are working on will feed on everything in front of you. — Richard Powers

2. Pulitzer, 2018: Andrew Sean Greer, Less

photo credit, Wikipedia

Pitch from your strength

For writers: don’t hold back. Be weird. Be sentimental. Be melodramatic. Take the risk of being not-cool, not-hip. — Andrew Sean Greer

3. Pulitzer, 2017: Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad

photo credit: wikipedia

Give yourself a chance to learn how to write…

The story is more important than you. — Colson Whitehead

4. Pulitzer, 2016: Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer

photo credit: wikipedia

In order to be a writer, you only need to do 2 things: one is to write and the other is to endure

All it takes to be a writer is literally to write thousands of hours and literally endure hundreds of rejections and the daily indignities of people not caring about what you do. If you can do those two things and have a minimum of talent, you can become a writer. — Viet Thanh Nguyen

5. Pulitzer, 2015: Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See

photo credit: wikipedia

Be curious about everything. Yes, everything!

Writing is just an excuse to go discover interesting things. — Anthony Doerr

6. Pulitzer, 2014: Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch

photo credit: GoodReads

Stick to the routine that works for you, even if it makes you antisocial

It’s for every writer to decide his own pace, and the pace varies with the writer and the work. — Donna Tartt

7. Pulitzer, 2013: Adam Johnson, The Orphan Master’s Son

photo credit: wikipedia

Hard workers become great writers…

I am a big believer in labor over talent. I think talent is something you can create. — Adam Johnson

8. Pulitzer, 2011: Jennifer Egan, A Visit From the Goon Squad

photo credit: wikipedia

Read at the level at which you want to write

We live in a moment and a culture when reading is really endangered. There’s simply no way to write well, though, if you’re not reading well. — Jennifer Egan

9. Pulitzer, 2010: Paul Harding, Tinkers

photo credit: Publishers Weekly

Don’t write your books for people who won’t like them.

Give yourself wholly to the kind of book you want to write and don’t try to please readers who like something different. — Paul Harding, Tinkers

10. Pulitzer, 2009: Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kitteridge

photo credit: wikipedia

Find your voice

I love arranging the words and having them fall on the ear the right way and you know you’re not quite there and you’re redoing it and redoing it and there’s a wonderful thrill to it. But it is hard. — Elizabeth Strout

Before You Go…

The Partnered Pen

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Linda Caroll

Written by

Top writer. Featured in NYT, Forbes. https://lindac.substack.com/

The Partnered Pen

MPP friends writing about life, love, and everything else in between together.

Linda Caroll

Written by

Top writer. Featured in NYT, Forbes. https://lindac.substack.com/

The Partnered Pen

MPP friends writing about life, love, and everything else in between together.