Essential writing advice from Anne Lamott

TED distilled fourteen writing tips from an interview conducted with novelist Anne Lamott. Her 1995 book Bird by Bird has become an essential guide for aspiring artists of all types.

My favorite snippet from the interview appears when she’s asked to give her younger self some writing advice:

“I’d teach my younger self to stare off into space more often. I would tell her to waste more paper. I would tell her she doesn’t need to stick to a decision; she can change her mind.”

Daydream. Plan unscheduled time. Get messy. There is no such thing as the perfect time to start anything. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “This ‘Wait!’ has almost always meant ‘Never.'”

The vocation chooses you. Do the work in despite the resistance.

Read 14 writing tips, from beloved teacher Anne Lamott

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‘Writing is all about rewriting, which means you’ve got to get something down.’

Essential writing tips from author, writing coach Chip Scanlan:

Steps for Managing Your Stories

  • Lower your standards.
  • Get something down.
  • Swallow the bile that rises in your throat when you write a first draft.
  • Print out early.
  • Read aloud.
  • Apply very critical standards.

“Print out early” is my favorite. Your writing always looks different on paper.

Another tip I recommend is publishing a draft to a Kindle device or Smartphone/Tablet. It’s like looking at your work with a fresh pair of eyes.