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Writing Advice from Favorite Authors

Reading and Writing
Thoughtful Learning

“The first author I remember being obsessed by, actually realizing 'I like the way he writes and I like the way he tells stories,' was C.S. Lewis and the 'Narnia' books.”

Neil Gaiman

Reading begets writing, and writing begets reading. Most writers can point to a specific book or author that first inspired their own work. With beloved authors, a little advice can go a long way. Share with your students these words of inspiration from well-known writers:

“The most important thing is to read as much as you can, like I did. It will give you an understanding of what makes good writing, and it will enlarge your vocabulary.”

J. K. Rowling

“I always tell people that I became a writer not because I went to school but because my mother took me to the library. I wanted to become a writer so I could see my name in the card catalog.”

Sandra Cisneros

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut.”

Stephen King

“A book comes and says, 'Write me.' My job is to try to serve it to the best of my ability, which is never good enough, but all I can do is listen to it, do what it tells me, and collaborate.”

Madeleine L'Engle

“If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”

Toni Morrison

“I feel like my job is to look at the world and to report what I see, to write what I see as honestly and directly as I can. I don't want to cut it or make it easy, but be as direct as I can.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates

“You see, I am trying in all my stories to get the feeling of the actual life across—not to just depict life—or criticize it—but to actually make it alive. So that when you have read something by me, you actually experience the thing. You can't do this without putting in the bad and the ugly as well as what is beautiful.”

Ernest Hemingway

“I started as a playwright. Any sort of scriptwriting you do helps you hone your story. You have the same demands of creating a plot, developing relatable characters, and keeping your audience invested in your story. My books are basically structured like three-act plays.”

Suzanne Collins

“I hate first drafts, and it never gets easier. People always wonder what kind of superhero power they'd like to have. I wanted the ability for someone to just open up my brain and take out the entire first draft and lay it down in front of me so I can just focus on the second, third, and fourth drafts.”

Judy Blume

“They say it is the first step that costs the effort. I do not find it so. I am sure I could write unlimited 'first chapters'. I have indeed written many.”

J. R. R. Tolkien

“In all my life, I have never been free. I have never been able to do anything with freedom, except in the field of my writing.”

Langston Hughes

“Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

George Orwell

“Science fiction is any idea that occurs in the head and doesn't exist yet, but soon will, and will change everything for everybody, and nothing will ever be the same again. As soon as you have an idea that changes some small part of the world you are writing science fiction. It is always the art of the possible, never the impossible.”

Ray Bradbury

“If I haven't any talent for writing books or newspaper articles, well, then I can always write for myself.”

Anne Frank

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