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What’s the single best piece of writing advice? Harper Lee, John Steinbeck and Carl Sandburg weigh in

Categories: Back to Basics, Craft & Technique, Fun, General, Getting Published, Interviews, There Are No Rules Blog by the Editors of Writer's Digest, WD Magazine, What's New Tags: Carl Sandburg, Harper Lee, James Thurber, John Steinbeck, Writer's Digest magazine, writing quotes.

What's the single best piece of writing advice?

Every week, I spelunk into the Writer’s Digest archives to find the wisest, funniest, or downright strangest moments from our 92 years of publication.

Harper Lee’s birthday is tomorrow, so today I went on a hunt to find some Harper Lee quotes somewhere in our archives. I didn’t exactly troll up an entire interview (no surprise there, given her lack of media appearances since To Kill a Mockingbird was published*), but I did stumble on this gold mine from 1961.

For a cover story interviewing Lee and a slew of other writers—John Steinbeck, Rod Serling, Carl Sandburg, James Thurber—we posed the question, “What advice would you offer a person who aspires to a writing career?” and asked for a single response.

Here’s their writing advice. I’m in the process of geeking out and printing Sandburg’s right now so I can place it above my desk.

As for our swag drawing, thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts on Janet Evanovich and outlining last week. We dipped a hand into the random WD swag hat, and a name emerged: Sharon Vander Meer. Sharon, can you email writersdigest@fwmedia.com, ATTN: Zachary Petit, and I’ll send you a list of free books to choose from?

Happy Friday!

*Here’s to hoping it wasn’t because we cited Lee as the author of To Kill a Hummingbird. Oy. Some 50 years later, WD still regrets (and still heavily cringes at) the error. Sorry, Harper!

What's the single best piece of writing advice?

Erskine Caldwell, Carl Sandburg, William Inge, Robert Fuoss

What's the single best piece of writing advice?

Erle Stanley Gardner, Herb Mayes, Paul Engle, Richard Gehman, Francois Sagan

What's the single best piece of writing advice?

Thomas B. Costain, Harper Lee, John Steinbeck, Rod Serling

What's the single best piece of writing advice?

Stirling Silliphant, Allen Drury, Paul Scott Mowrer, James Thurber

 

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2 Responses to What’s the single best piece of writing advice? Harper Lee, John Steinbeck and Carl Sandburg weigh in

  1. Blutarsky says:

    Carl Sandburg: pure genius!

  2. JR MacBeth says:

    “Hummingbird”, very funny, that’s an awesome bit of trivia! The final two quotes ring so true for me. The absolute best, adopted by the Air Force, “Aim high”. Damn right! It’s always such a treat to peek back at what the “Greats” had to say.
    Thanks WD.

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