On Writing: Turning to the Experts

In truth, I’m much more comfortable taking advice than giving it.
Publish date:

In truth, I’m much more comfortable taking advice than giving it. My first novel, ALL THE BROKEN PLACES, just came out in February 2016, and I’m still very much on the early part of the writing/publishing learning curve. When the impulse to write a novel came over me several years ago, I knew next to nothing about the process, so I took my usual first step when facing a new challenge: research. Since I didn’t know anyone personally who was in fiction writing or publishing, I looked online for expert advice that resonated with me and fit with my evolving experience of the creative process. While the following quotes may not speak to everyone, I’m happy to share some of the words of wisdom that have served as lifelines on my journey.

GIVEAWAY: Anise is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks. UPDATE: Debbie has won the giveaway.


Column by Anise Eden, author of ALL THE BROKEN PLACES
(Feb. 2016, Diversion Books).The sequel, ALL THE WOUNDS IN
SHADOW, is coming out on August 23, 2016 and is available for
She spends most of her time tucked away in her writing nook
things that aren’t there. Although Anise claims that she’s the one
in charge,
the characters in her head do sometimes make her laugh out
loud at
inappropriate moments. Follow her on Twitter

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you love. It will never lead you astray.” Rumi

(What query letter mistakes will sink your submission chances?)

When it comes to how and what to write, there is an endless universe of possibilities—which is exciting, but can also be dizzying. With so many choices, indecision can be a paralyzing force. Clearly, this advice from Rumi applies to so much more than creative pursuits. But it did inspire me to follow the “strange pull” I was feeling to try my hand at writing, and then to choose what and how to write based on my passions, regardless of what others might think. So far, the “pull” has led me to write paranormal romance, but if the direction of that “pull” should change in the future, I’ll follow wherever it takes me.

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” – Sir Terry Pratchett

There have been points in all of my first drafts when I’ve found it difficult to keep writing. Inspiration may still be spurring me on, but I begin to doubt and second-guess myself. This usually happens when I start thinking about things that are external to that initial creative process—things like whether readers will like the direction the plot is taking, or whether what I’m writing will be marketable. And those are important things to consider—just not while I’m writing the first draft, I’ve discovered. Terry Pratchett’s words are a helpful guide, giving me complete liberty to shut out all other voices and concerns as I write, delete, move things around, change direction, add new characters, take them back out, spend hours picking out names and researching places—doing all of those things and more, while knowing that with the first draft, I only need to please myself. I can just relax and work, knowing that all of the other important questions will get due attention during multiple rounds of editing!

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“Most writers when we look at our books we see what we were attempting and what we accomplish fall short. So we live with a lot of failure. Yet we hope our failures are successful.” Anne Rice

When it comes to writing, I’m pretty obsessive about trying to get everything just right. Still, I’ve found that if I don’t give myself permission to create something that’s imperfect, I won’t feel free enough to create, period. That is why I find Anne Rice’s words to be so reassuring. I take from them that it’s okay as writers for us, having done our best, to put our work out into the world, knowing that we may ultimately find that it has fallen short in some way. For me, giving myself room to be human as a writer breathes life into a creative process that could easily be stifled by the unrealistic expectations of perfectionism.

(Query letter pet peeves -- Agents Tell All.)

These are just three of the many pieces of advice that have guided and encouraged me so far. I’m deeply grateful for all of the voices of experience that have helped me along this writing adventure, and I’d love to hear about the words of wisdom that others have found useful. Please feel free to share in the comments below!

GIVEAWAY: Anise is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks. UPDATE: Debbie has won the giveaway.


Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers' Conferences:

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