The Only Real Advice You Can Give Anyone Is To Keep Writing ~ David Sedaris

1. Keep the drama on the page.

I first heard this writing advice from a woman in a Writing Marathon Group. Essentially, the lesson here is to not let your life get so bogged down in drama that you don’t have the emotional room or time to write. Don’t lose your days to bullshit concerns like who said what to whom, or get dragged into making poor choices that end up giving you real life consequences that eat into your mind and erode your ability to get words on the page. If you’re going to have drama in your life? Keep it on the page. Write it into a story where it only hurts your poor, hapless characters; don’t let it hurt you or your productivity.

2. Write for only one person.

I heard this advice only two weeks ago from a friend who heard it from her writing coach. Don’t let the voices of your editors, your friends, the crowd, the reviewers, and the polls about what “our readers” want tell you what you can or can’t write. If you do that, you’ll no longer be able to hear your own inner voice and you’ll be paralyzed with fear. You’ll think things like, “I can’t write this story in first person! Everyone hates first person!” or “I can’t have the other love interest be a woman because the main m/m review sites won’t look at a story if there’s a woman in it, too!”

If you think those thoughts, your creativity dies. It shrivels up into a corner and starts to cry, “Everyone hates me, nobody loves me, guess I’ll go eat worms.” Then it will sit there and refuse to move, letting your miserable writerly self stew in panic over how you can’t write anymore!

Yep, that’s what will happen. So! Write for one person and one person only. No matter who it might be. It’s okay for that person to be your best friend, or that one reader you know will love the concept, or perhaps best and most freeing of all, write it for yourself.

3. Don’t get caught up in ideas of what you should be writing. Write whatever the hell you want to write. Write trash, write smut, write hoity-toity literature, write gay romance, write heterosexual romance, write threesomes, fivesomes, westerns, space-cowboys, write about circuses or trash collectors. Don’t cut yourself off from your creative source by deciding what kind of writer you want to be and sticking only to that.

People will tell you that diversification is bad because your following only wants to read what you’ve fed them in the past. Well, creativity doesn’t thrive on reproducing the same book again and again, and readers will either follow you into something new or or they won’t. Your creativity, though, won’t stick around while you batter it against the same wall again and again. If you do that, what you once loved–writing–will become a dreadful chore.

4. That’s right. It’s okay for your book to not be okay. It’s okay for it to not be perfect or even really good. It’s okay if people don’t like it. It’s okay if it only sells four copies. It’s okay.

Do you know why it’s okay? Because you wrote a motherfucking book! And not everyone does that. You know that quote, right? The one about perfection being the enemy of good? At some point just be done with your book. There’s a ‘good enough’ point that must be reached in order to let your book live in the hands of readers. Bow to that and submit fully to it. Be okay with the outcome. After all….

You wrote a motherfucking book!

5. Make peace with the fact that you’re not Jonathan Lethem or Catherynne Valente or Ernest Hemingway or any writer other than yourself. Make peace with the fact that you’re not going to be in TIME or win a prize. Make peace with that reality and write your books to the very best of your ability–and it might turn out that you were wrong. But even if you weren’t wrong, you wrote a damn book. Good on you!

5. Yep, that’s right. Every book is a new creature and you’re going to have to face that fact. Don’t let the new and daunting stop you from going forward. Every writer struggles at times, some books are easier than others, and you just have to keep on keeping on.

6. What’s the most important thing to do as a writer? We all know the answer. The single most important thing you can do to become a successful writer is…*drum roll*…


That’s right. That’s the single most important thing you can do to become a successful writer. Why’s that? Because if you finish nothing then you’ll never sell anything either. You have to start somewhere and that means you’ve got to have a finished product. Embrace “good enough” and finish your book. Don’t get overly distracted by the pretty, shiny of a new idea, or let yourself quit when the going gets tough. If you get bored, come at it from a new angle, introduce a new point of view, or throw away part of it. Embrace the rewrites. Just don’t quit and don’t stop. Finish. Your. Work.


Keira Andrews and Leta Blake write fairy tale inspired m/m erotica and romantica with Ellora’s Cave. Check out Ascending Hearts, available through Ellora’s CaveAmazonBarnes & NobleSony, and others! And also remember to look for Earthly Desires, the first book in the Tempting Tales series, available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and Ellora’s Cave.

About Leta Blake

Author, mother, wife, and working on becoming stellar at life.

Posted on June 18, 2013, in Keira Andrews, Leta Blake, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. I agree with almost everything, but of course I had to write a post about what I don’t. I think that deciding not to finish a piece of work can lead a writer to what she most wants to write:

    • I don’t disagree with you at all, Linnea. 🙂 I think that you bring up a good point that I didn’t throw into the soup of this bunch of mixed-up and random advice. The real question is, indeed, what will you choose to finish. But choosing to finish something is absolutely a must at some point if you really want to be published or have any success as a writer.

      I also have many abandoned works. Usually, though, I don’t abandon things that are over half done. I usually shelve those (if I lose interest or choose to focus on something else instead) in case the drive to finish them returns to me one day. But, yes, abandoning books that aren’t driving you toward your goal is a-okay. (Though, again, shelving them until some later date is more my personal cuppa. Though, yes, sometimes there comes a point where I realize that this particular piece is never going anywhere ever again, and then I do abandon them.)

      So, I hear you and agree that at times quitting a particular work is a good idea. But some people never finish anything and in order to publish something, you’ve got to finish it. So I do stand by my advice to finish your work, but also embrace your advice that choosing what to finish is something to consider as well.

  2. Haha! I love #4. “You wrote a motherfucking book!” Awesome blog post. 🙂

  3. This couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. Last week, I got slammed. Short of being told the book sucked and I’m a hack. This from a person I respected. I’ve had a few bestsellers. I have almost 20 books on the market. The remarks sent me reeling…for a few days. Now, I’m back at it. This is what I do. It’s not for everyone, but it is for me.

    • I’m very glad you found it helpful! Keep your chin up and keep going. Not every book is going to be loved by everyone–sometimes they won’t even be loved by you! (Though you should probably keep that to yourself lest you tick off your characters! :P) But the thing is we’ve got to keep on going. I hope that you shake this off and get back on the horse.

      • I am about half finished with a book that I will complete. We’ll see how that one is received by publisher prospects. After that, I’ll have to re-evaluate this other book and determine what to do with it. And I’m buying a new layer of elephant skin. Thanks.

  4. Very inspirational! Thank you Leta. 🙂


  5. Reblogged this on Leta Blake and commented:

    My post today at Darker Temptations with some advice on writing. Writing motivations are, of course, unique to each individual, so take from this bag of advice whatever works for you and discard the rest!

  6. I love this and I bow down at your feet, Leta. 😀 I so seriously needed a few of your well-aimed kicks in my backside. Starting a new book – or so I’ve been telling myself for two word-countless weeks now. That changes now.

  7. Reblogged this on Library of Erana and commented:
    Good advice, it is easy to let oneself get distracted by issues which hinder the creativity. Work, the little annoyances of life, even illness and depression can get in the way. Even if you write 100 words it is still something.

  8. H. Tracy, we have a plugin that we are using which auictamtoally links scripture references to the LDS scriptures sight, so that you don’t have to worry about it. This encourages people to provide such citations, prevents comments that make use of multiple scriptures from ending up in the spam moderation queue, and gives the overall impression that we’re using cool technology. 🙂

  1. Pingback: On Quitting | Linnea Writes

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