Huffpost Books

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Karen Dionne Headshot

Advice for Writers

Posted: Updated:

Every writer I know has assembled a collection of quotes from famous authors that inspire their writerly souls. As an author, a conference attendee, and a conference organizer, I've culled plenty of advice over the years. Here are a few of my favorites.

"Writers write. It's that basic. If you just got off an assembly line in Detroit and you're certain you have the great American novel inside you, you don't grab a beer and sit in front of the TV. You write. If you're a mother of three toddlers and at the end of the day you feel like you've been spinning in a hamster cage and yet you're convinced you have a story to tell, you find a way late at night or early in the morning to sit down and write. That's a version of how Mary Higgins Clark succeeded, by the way. Because she had to. Because something inside her absolutely insisted. A half hour a day. A page a day. Whatever it takes." - David Morrell, Successful Novelist: A Lifetime of Lessons about Writing and Publishing

"Write the book you want to read," Anne Rice, ThrillerFest 2013

"When a character is hanging by two fingers, chop one off." Sophie Littlefield, ThrillerFest 2012

"There are no rules. We're storytellers. There's nothing wrong with telling sometimes. Why not start with the weather? Don't lock your writing into procedural rules. Keep asking questions because people will always want to know the answer. Open with a question and don't answer it until the end." Lee Child, ThrillerFest 2012

"Novels should be novel." Jonathan Karp, Writers Digest Conference 2006

"If you're struggling with writing a character, write 20 things that the reader will never know about your character. These will naturally bleed into your writing and provide a richness even though you don't share the detail." Barbara Poelle, ThrillerFest 2012

"Write boldly. Writing is like skiing - you will fall when you hesitate. Also, keep in mind that no one will be interested in anything you say if you cannot say it with verve, personality, and some skew." David L. Robbins, "Advice to Writers"

"I just think that when somebody knows how to write, it's so freaking obvious. It's in the voice, it's in the rhythm, and you know it immediately. It has nothing to do with anything else. It can be a letter that's three pages long or a sentence." Jeff Kleinman, Poets & Writers Magazine

And the two currently taped to my computer monitor:

From Micah Nathan's, Glimmer Train essay "Selectively Stubborn":

"Good writers figure it out on their own. Good writers develop a style that works for them. They write, they fail, and they write again."

And from a non-writer, but a pretty creative and successful guy:

"Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition." Steve Jobs

Those are a few of the quotes from which I draw inspiration. What are yours?