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Swoon Author Sandy Hall: The Advice I Give Myself

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Writing advice is not one size fits all.

This might seem like an obvious statement, but it’s not. At least not to me, not when I was starting out as a writer. And even now, five books later, I still want good advice to always translate to better writing.

I’ve learned over and over again that things that supposedly work for “everyone” just don’t work for me. Or advice that I pass on to someone else doesn’t change their life the way it changed mine.

But I figured it might be worth it to share this list of things that I tell myself. The advice I’m constantly writing on post-its and in the margins of drafts. I come back to these ideas and words of wisdom time and time again. Maybe there will be something here just for you.

Disclaimer/reminder: I’m not telling YOU specifically what to do. The “you” here is actually me talking to myself.

1.) Don’t read reviews. Don’t do it. There’s nothing there for you. Reviews are for the readers. Step away from Goodreads/Amazon/that random two-star review you got tagged in on Twitter.

2.) It doesn’t have to perfect. This is about the drafting process, but can also be about the finished book. Yes, the final product should be well polished and without spelling and grammar errors, but that doesn’t mean it will always live up to the perfect idea that you have in your head.

3.) Make a plan, even if you don’t stick to it. You’re not a pantser. You’ve tried it. It doesn’t work for you. Do what works for you.

4.) Focus on your strengths instead of your flaws. You’re great with dialogue and side characters. Stop worrying about meager descriptions and weak endings. They always work themselves out.

5.) Don’t compare yourself to others. This is good life advice in general, but especially important when talking about books and authors and the publishing world in general.

6.) When the creative well is empty, it’s time to READ. Read everything you can get your hands, and especially books that are outside of your usual preferred genre and comfort zone.

Your turn, Swooners! What writing advice do you give yourself when the going gets tough?

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Sandy Hall


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