Writing advice from the pros: Should you listen? Soak in all advice, but use only what works best for you.

When it comes to hashing out your next draft, where will you turn to find great writing advice? If you’re anything like me, you look all around when trying to become inspired to writing something that matters.

Sometimes it comes in everyday situations, standing in line at a coffeeshop or driving down the road, and you overhear someone talking or something on the radio that just seems to strike a chord. Other times, inevitably, we writers look to the most successful authors in the industry for advice — a quote, a brainstorming strategy, or even sometimes just a little piece of motivation.

And why not? Whatever they have done has obviously led to a fruitful career, so why not learn from their successes and try to apply them to your own work?

RELATED: Taking a look inside my writing process

It’s only natural to think this way. I certainly do. When Elmore Leonard says, “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it,” or when Joyce Carol Oates says, “The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written,” it’s difficult not to take those words and apply them to your own process.

But all writing advice should be vetted, regardless of who it comes from, to ensure it will benefit your writing process. If it does, run with it. If it doesn’t, take what you can from it and move on.

Here’s my piece of writing advice: look for lessons everywhere you turn, but be conscious about what works for you. Write every day, and make today’s words better than yesterday’s.

There’s no secret formula to writing well. Sure, it takes years of practice, late nights reading as many books as possible and gathering ideas of best practices from other writers, but in the end you have to make your writing your own. Absorb all the writing advice you can from the successful authors who came before you, weed out the things that don’t work, use the things that do and fine-tune them to fit your writing routine or style.

And then, of course, put the pen to paper.

8 thoughts on “Writing advice from the pros: Should you listen? Soak in all advice, but use only what works best for you.

  1. One thing I’ve found is that once you decide you are a writer, you have to decide what type of writer you are? Are you a fiction, non-fiction, memoir, short article, novel, poet (what kind of poet?), screenwriter, playwright, stand-up, comedy, drama, … it’s a whole other process matching these types with the personality you have. Working in the correct form can speed your success more than anything.

  2. The more formulaic the writing advice, I find the less useful it is–for me. Some genres (I don’t mean to sound like I’m bashing romance and YA…) lend themselves to more structured advice for quick sales. I like to believe these writers still work hard; more power to them.

Thoughts?