12 January, 2012

Advice I'd Give To Students On Writing

It recently came to my attention that I've been nominated for the Top Writing Blogs Award by eCollegeFinder (definitely a surprise!). Nominees are encouraged to write a blog post directed toward students about how to improve their writing skills, and while it isn't a requirement, I thought I'd do it anyway.

My advice?

Write and read as often as you can. I suppose this could really apply to a lot of writers, not just students, but it's such a staple I think it's worth saying.

Write, because writers aren't called that for people-watching, much as they do it. Write novels, short stories, novellas, flash fiction, whichever strikes your fancy, in whatever genre. Finding your niche, the genre(s) and style(s) that you're most comfortable writing and can write the best, will probably take some experimenting.

You will write horrible stuff sometimes, and other times it will feel like you'll never produce something good enough to see the light of day. But forge on, because the act of writing can inspire, and also because being a writer takes time--and work.

Another thing? Perhaps think about trying some challenges, if you're the sort who likes them (or even if you're not) and you have the time; they're a great way to test your limits and see just what and how much you can accomplish in a set amount of time, or for a specific goal.

Reading books, the other element, is also quite important, because there's a lot to learn from a book you enjoy and even from a book you hate. With a story you dislike, you can find out what it is that bothered you and why--and be sure not to make the mistake yourself in your own projects. And the good ones are excellent demonstrations of how to write.

Do think about what influenced your opinion of a story after finishing it: was it the writing, plot, setting characters? Did the author use an interesting POV or did the character have an interesting voice? Do the plot twists come as often as they should, are there holes you could drive a truck through? All of those factors are important in creating something that will appeal to readers, and they are certainly worth considering. (Book reviews can be a great way of spelling out your thoughts--there's even a demand for them).

So, again, my advice would be to write and read. They're closely interlinked. Without one, there would be no books, and without the other, we'd all be talking to an empty void. Writers write to be read, readers hope there will be writers to satiate them. Being a writer can be tough, but it's also very rewarding when you come up with something that's meaningful to you. And it's even more gratifying when a reader comes along and finds something in it as well; and the more you discover about the craft, the more likely it is that they will.

-----The Golden Eagle


Connie Keller said...

Congrats on the nomination!!

I agree, read and write--it's the best way to get to be a better writer. It's like any skill. The more you practice, the better you get.

Anonymous said...

Well said. Well said.

Li said...

Nice! Congrats on the recognition. I would say reading is essential for developing writing skills - especially reading books outside of your usual favorite genres or subjects. the more exposure to other ideas, thoughts, settings and voices, the better!

KatieO said...

Great post & great advice for all of us!!
Congrats on the recognition ;-)

Southpaw said...


I totally agree that reading and writing are closely linked.

Beth said...

Congrats! That's huge.

Cherie Reich said...

Congrats on the nomination!!

I completely agree. Reading and writing are so closely related. It always amazes me when I hear of authors that don't read.

Liz said...

Congratulations on the nomination.

Good advice. I especially agree with analyzing why a particular book didn't speak to you. That is so true.

Old Kitty said...

Huge congratulations with your nomination!! Well done you!!

And what fabulous sensible and wise advise too!! Wonderful! Take care

Emily Rose said...

Wonderful! And congratulations on the award - you definitely deserve it.:)Reading this made me feel more and more inspired to work on my WIP.

Beth said...

Congratulations on the nomination! Writing and reading are the two most important things for writers to do regularly.

L.G.Smith said...

Congratulations. I got one of those e-mails too, but I think I'll just refer them to this post. Very, very well stated. :))

The Writing Hour. said...

Congrats on being nominated! And you're so right, reading and writing are so closely linked. And trying out different genres for writing, I did that and found my niche :)

Abby Minard said...

Congrats on the nomination and great advice! Especially about paying attention to those books you don't like- there is always something to be learned for us writers.

Angelina C. Hansen said...

Congrats, GE! Well deserved. And your advice is spot on.

When I used to compose music for piano, I found that my most productive and creative work arrived when I was playing several hours every day. I apply this to my writing. And as for reading, that's a lifelong addiction I have no desire to curb.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Congrats on the well-deserved recognition and good job with the advice.

David P. King said...

Nice! You were nominated, too? Very cool. My post for it will be up tomorrow. And your advice is sound. Best of luck. You deserve it. :)

Rusty Webb said...

Well done on your nomination. Reading and writing are both essential if anyone wants to write. I'm always surprised at how many people want to be writers but do neither.

Good advice.

Deniz Bevan said...

Spot on advice! Diana Gabaldon says it too: "Write. Read. Don't Stop."
Love that image of old books, I wish I had a few more of them...

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the nomination!!

Excellent advice, indeed.

T.D. McFrost said...

Congrats and excellent advice!

Christine Rains said...

Congratulations and that was an excellent post.

Trisha said...

Congrats Eagle!! That's so exciting. And your advice is excellent for students and non-students alike. :)

J. A. Bennett said...

Perfect advise! There's nothing better. Congrats on the nomination!

E.D. said...

Congratulations. I agree - cannot do one without the other!

Donna Hole said...

Congrats on the blog award. Truly deserved, IMO.


Ty Johnston said...

Great advice, and perhaps the best advice that can be given.

Stuart Nager said...

Major congrats, and well deserved. Here's to go from Nominee to "winner!".

Well written post, as usual.

Paul Tobin said...

Congratulations! I agree with everything you have written. It is so important to read and reflect on structure, character development oh the works. And as you say write write write.

Margo Kelly said...

Great post! I agree. Read and Write!

Misha Gericke said...

Congratulations on your nomination!

I agree with you that writing and reading are essential to learning how to write.

Reading is also important while one is writing, to recharge creative reserves. :-)

Charles Gramlich said...


Michelle Merrill said...

Well said! And congrats on the blog award. That's awesome, and definitely awarded to the right person.

I enjoyed your advice and agree with it 100%

Michelle Merrill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachna Chhabria said...

The advice is spot-on. Reading and writing are both crucial for any writer.

....Petty Witter said...

Well done on that nomination, do let us know the outcome.

By the way re my post on the leshy: I think you are thinking of Treebeard and the ents.

Krispy said...

Great post and very essential advice! Congrats on the nomination too!

M Pax said...

Congrats on being nominated. Your advice is great. We learn my writing, learning and then practicing what we learn. And we can't write in a vacuum. We must read.

Brian said...

That's why you were nominated, you are very wise! Congrats!!!

Ciara said...

This is a great post. I'm sad though. You've left me nothing to write about for my eCollege post. :) Awesome job!

Carol Kilgore said...

Congrats on the nomination! Excellent post. Everything you said is important, but the most important is write, write, and write some more.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations. And I can't agree with your suggestion more... continuing to read and write is the best advice:)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi GE .. congratulations on the nomination - well deserved.

Good advice to students .. reading and writing are as Holly says closely linked ... and educational as you improve your general knowledge .. cheers Hilary

Sangu Mandanna said...

Congratulations on the nomination, wow!

I love your first tip. It's so simple but it's so easy for us to forget that nothing works better than just reading and writing as often as you can.

Madeleine Maddocks said...

Great advice. I found blog chalenges a great way to hone my flash fiction skills too.

I've heard that the characters are more important the plot...

The Golden Eagle said...

Connie: Thank you!


Joshua: Thanks. :)

Li: Thank you.

Good point--it is helpful to read books outside of the genre you write.

KatieO: Thank you! :)

Southpaw: Thanks!

Beth: I was really surprised when they told me I was nominated!

Cherie: Thank you.

Me, too. I think you can get by with reading and not writing, but it certainly helps to read as well.

Liz: Thanks!

I do it much more now that I write; I used to just cast off a book I didn't enjoy as "bad" and leave it at that.

Old Kitty: Thank you! :D

Emily: Thanks. :)

I'm glad it made you feel inspired! I had hoped readers would feel that way.

Beth: Thanks!

Good to know you agree. :)

L.G.: Thank you so much!

The Writing Hour: Thanks.

Glad you found it. :) It took me a while--at first I wrote mostly Fantasy, but then I read a SF book that really inspired me and it snowballed from there.

Abby: Thank you!

Angelina: Thanks. :)

You're a composer, too? Wow. That's awesome.

Susan: Thanks!

David: Thank you! I wish you luck as well. :) Your blog is one of the best around!

Rusty: Thank you.

Same here. I can sort of see not reading and writing, but not writing and wanting to be a writer makes less sense . . .

Deniz: Thanks! :)

I have yet to read anything by Diana Gabaldon; I've heard a lot about her books, though.

Found it on commons.wikimedia.org. It's a great site for images you can download and use on blogs/other websites.

Bryce: Thank you! :)

T.D.: Thanks!

Christine: Glad you thought so.

Trisha: Thank you.

J. A.: Thanks! :)

E.D.: Thanks.

Donna: Aw, thank you. :)

Ty: It's so integral--yet there seem to be a surprising number of instances where people do neither.

The Golden Eagle said...

Stuart: Thank you! :)

Paul: Thanks.

The works indeed. There's so much the process . . .

Margo: Thanks!

Misha: Thank you.

Great point. It's true that reading can help when inspiration is lacking or when the writing feels like a load of work.

Charles: Glad you agree!

Michelle: Thank you. :)

I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Rachna: Thanks!

Petty Witter: I will, for sure!

Yes, that's what I was thinking of. The leshy just seemed very similar to Treebeard in his forest habits.

Krispy: Thank you! :)

M: Thanks!


Brian: Aw, thanks for the compliment. :)

Ciara: Sorry to steal your subject! But I'm sure you'll think of something great for your post.

Thank you!

Carol: Thanks! :)

Tfwalsh: Thank you.

Hilary: Thanks!

Reading is definitely educational for a writer.

Sangu: Thank you! :)

Madeleine: Thanks.

I had never tried flash fiction before I started blogging; I hadn't ever heard of it.

I usually consider plot to be more important than characters. But that's just me--I've heard that as well, and it is the readers that choose what's read and what isn't.

Anonymous said...

I still hear aspiring writers say they don't need to or have time to read. I make it a point to read two books a month. Just finished Hunger Games and am halfway through Open Minds.

Bess Weatherby said...

Congratulations! And well said. You can't have the one without the other.

Natasha said...

This is a brilliant post. My friend studied English with Creative Writing at university and she would have loved this. Painting's so relaxing, definitely get the paper and brushes out soon. xxx

Jules said...

Well done Eagle! Have a great weekend. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Cortney Pearson said...

Congrats on the nomination!!! And reading is definitely a must if you want to write! Great advice. :)

Talli Roland said...

Congrats on being nominated -- and great advice. Happy weekend!

JeffO said...

Congratulations on the nomination, it is well deserved. And your advice is dead on. The only way you're going to get any better is to write more, and read.

Oh, and maybe one other thing: Swallow the big lump in your throat and share your work with someone who will be honest with you.

Jen Chandler said...

Golden, this is so wise! And so helpful! In this post I read advice from my college writing instructors! Seriously. You have such a great handle on writing and the hard work that it takes to succeed.

Congrats on the recognition! What an honor.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend,

The Golden Eagle said...

Stephen: I try to read as many books as I can. I really can't imagine writing and not reading . . .

Beth: Thanks! :)

Natasha: Thank you. I'm glad you liked it!

Jules: Thanks. :)

Cortney: Thank you!

Talli: Thanks.

JeffO: Thank you.

I agree. At some point you have to get feedback . . .

Jen: Aw, thank you for the compliment. :)

Hope you had a great weekend!

Rachel Morgan said...

Same as my advice! Just keep reading and just keep writing (now I'm thinking of Dory from FINDING NEMO - just keep swimming, just keep swimming...)
And congratulations on being nominated!
P.S. It's great that reading helps our writing, because then it gives us an excuse to do more of it!

Anonymous said...

Great post, Eagle, and congrats on the nomination. I also agree with the reading-writing link. I analyze what I like and dislike about books and apply that to my own writing. There's also the many styles and genres I'm exposed to.

Simon Kewin said...

Great advice - and yep, that's the crux of it. Keep reading and writing.

Heather said...

Congratulations! And fantastic advice! Reading is vital to writing. Not only does it exercise our creativity, it keep us learning.

The Golden Eagle said...

Rachel: Cool. :)

I never finished watching Finding Nemo; I'm beginning to think I should, since a lot of people bring it up . . .

Thank you!

LOL. Indeed it does!

Medeia: Thanks. :)

I love reading in different genres and styles.

Simon: Thanks!

Heather: Yup. :)

Julie @ Knitting and Sundries said...

I sent a link of this on to my daughter in college - one of her majors is Creative Writing, and I think she would definitely like to read this article. Congrats on the nominations, too! :)