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Advice From the Archives

In September 1961, the editors of Writer's Digest asked a handful of the world's greatest writers the following question: "What advice would you offer a person who aspires to a writing career?" Their answers follow:
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

AN INTERVIEW WITH HEMINGWAY
In December 1964, Edward Stafford provided Writer's Digest with an interview conducted with Ernest Hemingway shortly before the author's death in 1961. It's excerpted here for the first time in more than 40 years. Please note that the excerpt has been abridged due to space considerations:
AN AFTERNOON WITH HEMINGWAY. LITERARY LEGENDS
What's old in writing advice seems new again, as one writer discovered on his trip back in time through the Writer's Digest archives: Literary Legends by Phil Sexton

"Study the writers' magazines and pound hell out of the typewriter."
—Erle Stanley Gardner

"Sorry—if I had any advice to give I'd take it myself."
—John Steinbeck

"The new writer should observe, listen, look ? and then write. Nothing begets better writing than the simple process of writing."
—Rod Serling

"The beginning writer needs talent, application and aspirin. If he wants to write just to make money, he is not a writer."
—James Thurber

"Beware of advice—even this."
—Carl Sandburg

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Thinking There’s Not Enough Room for Your Story

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Thinking There’s Not Enough Room for Your Story

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so this series helps identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's mistake is thinking there's not enough room for your story.

The Head and the Heart: 5-Minute Memoir

The Head and the Heart: 5-Minute Memoir

In this article from the March/April 2022 issue of Writer's Digest, Lauryne Wright writes about rejection, rumination, and staying true to the creative voice inside ourselves.

Sophie Irwin: On Connecting With Readers

Sophie Irwin: On Connecting With Readers

Author Sophie Irwin discusses her pipe-dream-turned-reality of writing her historical fiction rom-com, A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting.

Getting Started Writing a Beach Book

Getting Started Writing a Beach Book

Sun, sand, and surf are only a fraction of what a beachside setting can bring to your stories. Here, bestselling author Amy Clipston helps us get started writing a beach book.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Old Technology

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Old Technology

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have your characters use old technology to accomplish a goal.

10 Questions to Ask Yourself for an Airtight Plot

10 Questions to Ask Yourself for an Airtight Plot

No matter the genre of book you’re writing, certain questions authors ask themselves can help them strengthen their plots and, by extension, strengthen their stories, Here, authors Boyd Morrison and Beth Morrison share 10 questions to ask yourself for an airtight plot.

A Master Class in Failure (To Find Writing Success)

A Master Class in Failure (To Find Writing Success)

Failure is often a step in finding success but navigating the treacherous terrain of rejection can be burdensome. Here, international bestselling author Marcia DeSanctis shares a master class in coming back from failure.

Telling My Story: How to Work Through Painful Feelings While Writing a Memoir

Telling My Story: How to Work Through Painful Feelings While Writing a Memoir

When revisiting your past means unearthing painful memories, it’s important to find solitude somewhere. Here, author Laura L. Engel discusses how to work through painful feelings while writing a memoir.

Podcasting Tips | Brendan O'Meara

The Writer’s Guide to Being a Great Podcast Guest

More writers than ever are appearing on or even hosting podcasts related to their writing. Host of the "Creative Nonfiction Podcast" Brendan O'Meara shares how to make it an enjoyable and successful experience.