In the 16th in a series of posts on 2014 books entered for The Story Prize, Nicholas Grider, author of Misadventure (A Strange Object), offers several tips.
Ten Pieces of Writing Advice
2. Don’t fall so much in love with something you’ve written that you’re unable to see that it might not work, or might belong elsewhere; learn from the criticism of others.
3. Don’t end up hating something you’ve been trying to revise so much that you lose sight of what’s good about it; learn from the praise of others.
4. No matter how much you’ve revised it, given time and perspective you can probably still improve it, but:
5. Don’t overdo it. If a text is telling you it’s done, if it has exhausted you and you have exhausted it, it’s done.
6. The goal of revision isn’t perfection, the goal is maximum impact.
7. Don’t write solely to please yourself and don’t write solely to please others, but ask yourself what will give the most to both you and the reader, and realize that this is not necessarily a kind of compromise.
8. There’s often a tradeoff between complexity/innovation and accessibility, and when you’re trying to decide how your text should be defined in those terms, don’t let people tell you what to do, just go with your gut. There’s no right answer.
9. Realize that sometimes something you work very hard on really only ends up being practice for something you write in the future, but that the learning involved in practice is just as important as “finished” texts and publication.
10. This bears repeating: Don’t give up. Take breaks, put things aside, shelve things for years, but if you’ve got something and it has something important to give to both you and the reader, don’t give up.