Maggie Stiefvater on Writing
As part of the #DreamThievesBlogTour we are excited to host Maggie Stiefvater on the blog today. She is definitely one we look up to and respect as an excellent writer/author. She’s encouraging, straightforward and her published books attest for her brilliance.
First of all, thanks to the Girls in the Stacks for having me! For this blog post I thought I would answer a question I get asked a lot: what advice would I give aspiring writers. Actually, this post is going to be a two-for-one deal, because I’m also going to give some advice for aspiring authors.
I know folks use these words interchangeably, and there’s probably no technical right or wrong to it. I, however, use “writer” for someone who writes for any purpose whatsoever, and “author” for someone who pursues writing as a career/ occupation. Clear? Clear.(nearly said “savvy?” but then I would have to follow up with “why is all the rum gone?” and it would quickly just become ridiculous).
Here are my top three pieces of advice for writers:
1. Read. Read widely. Read everything. YA, teen, childrens, adult, fiction, nonfiction, cereal boxes, toothpaste tubes. You can read books on the rules of writing, but it’s better to see what the rules of writing look in practice. Also, read critically. If you love a book, break it down: why do you love it? If you hate a book, break it down: why do you hate it?
2. Write. Don’t think about writing. Don’t tell people you’re planning a novel. Don’t write endless character studies. Write the damn book. It will suck. So will the next one. But you can’t perfect without doing. So, write. Rinse and repeat.
3. Have a sense of humor. You are not writing the Great American Novel. Pretty much no one is. Don’t let other people get you down, especially when you are the other people. Your words aren’t sacred, since you aren’t writing the Great American Novel, so you can feel free to cut and delete them as you need to. Freeing!
And here are my top three pieces of advice for authors:
1. Know the business. A lot of people want to be authors. Fewer people take the time to learn how the publishing industry works and what publishing professionals have to go through to sort through all of the submissions. If you make yourself one of them, you stand a chance of getting published. If you don’t: well. Insert a grim statement here. There’s this thing called the Internet and I suggest you familiarize yourself with it. You can start with misssnark.blogspot.com, if you like.
2. Get a critique partner. If you’re going to move your writing from a hobby to a professional thing, you need to make sure people besides your mother think it stands up. It’s very easy to find a critique partner who sucks out your soul and leave only an empty shell behind, so make sure you find someone who likes to read what you like to read and write. Every year, I run a critique partner match up so you can find a crit partner the very same way I found my two lovely partners. That link’s here: http://maggiestiefvater.com/blog/2013-critique-partner-love-connection/
3. Write the book you wish you could find on the shelf but can’t. The book that only you can write. And remember that “no” never means “no.” It always means: “not yet.” You can find a billion more words of writing advice on my blog. Every writing post is tagged “how I write.”
Courtesy of Maggie Stiefvater and Scholastic Inc. in conjunction with the Maggie Stiefvater Blog Contest. © Maggie Stiefvater 2013