This week, I would like to talk about advice. For writers, taking advice can be one of the hardest things to do. We think that nobody else can understand what we’re trying to do and tend to shun what others might suggest. My advice is to take advice from those who know; the writers of today, for we are ourselves the writers of tomorrow.
In this blog, I will go through some advice given by such writers as Quentin Tarantino, Neil Gaiman, Terry Gilliam and Stephen King. These are people who know what they’re talking about when it comes to writing whether it be novels, scripts or whatever. Each piece of advice is one that I find helpful and I hope that they are for you, too.
“The first thing you want to do, when you want to write a story, is to sit your ass in a chair.” – Prof John Dufresne
Excellent advice for any of us. If we want to get anything done then we have to come to a point where we stop running everything through our minds and get on with the writing process.
“If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do.” – William Zinsser
Writing is difficult and if you come across anyone who says otherwise then you can ignore anything they say because they’re not doing it right themselves. Writing is a pain in the ass most of the time. You have this story in your head and notes made but the time and the effort and the brain energy that it takes to put the story down on paper can be exhausting and, at times, you may wish to scrap the whole lot and just start again from scratch.
“You need to understand your vision and you need to articulate it.” – Terry Gilliam
“I know I can articulate. I can describe exactly what I want.” – Quentin Tarantino
This is some great advice. So many times young writers have asked how to communicate the stories in their mind to the reader. Basically, Terry Gilliam is saying that you just need to tell the story that you want told and describe what you see.
“Nobody’s ever going to see your first draft and nobody cares about your first draft… whatever you’re doing can be fixed… for now, just get the words down… Mostly it’s a process of putting one word after another.” – Neil Gaiman
“People have a romantic notion about writers that the muse comes and you write, you’re inspired and you write but they’ve got that completely wrong; You write and then you get inspired.” – John Dufresne
Always remember that your first draft (there must always be a second) is never the one that you send out. It is not the one that you let people see. It will need some work before it should be read by anyone but yourself. Until the first draft is complete, it is vital that you just write and keep writing, even if you are not inspired.
“Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that but you are the only you.” – Neil Gaiman
Again, good advice. Trying to emulate someone else or tell stories that are not of our own actually inhibits the writer. It prevents us from delving into our imagination and creating those new stories that we have inside. What we write must be from our own souls.
“As you come to the end of your writing day do not write out the last bit. Just maybe make some notes so that when you start the following day, you start by writing up the thing that you wrote in note form the night before so you never have that experience of not knowing where to begin.” – Andy Hamilton
I have found this advice very useful. Andy Hamilton has been a great inspiration to me over the years, creating and writing such shows as “Drop the Dead Donkey” and “Outnumbered”, not to mention the classic, “Old Harry’s Game”. I do as he does, writing up a few notes before bed so that I can dive straight in when I restart. I have found this helps me greatly as, by the time I have written up from my notes, I have found my rhythm again and can continue with more ease.
As you can see. The advice that writers can give is invaluable and I suggest that everyone thinks hard about these advisory quotes. We should always be willing to accept help in becoming the better version of our writing selves.
Good writing to you all and I will leave you with a few more quotes that I have found useful over the years. I hope you do too:
“I start with a character and I give that character some trouble…” – John Dufresne
“One thing I still do, over and over, is write in notebooks.” – Neil Gaiman
“The best advice I can give you is be tenacious, be aggressive and don’t be polite.” – Jerry Lewis
“I think that the novel is a quagmire that a lot of younger writers stumble upon before they’re ready to go there… Misery started as a short story.” – Stephen King
“The plot has to come out of the desires, wishes, behaviors, motivations of the characters. They drive the plot.” – John Dufresne
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