Writing Advice for the New Year

It might be tough to believe, but a new year is upon us and with that comes time for reflection on the past year. In 2019 we hosted more than 30 author programs featuring more than 50 prominent writers across multiple genres. These accomplished wordsmiths offered sage writing advice and we learned quite a bit about writing from them. As we turn the page to 2020 we take a look back at some of the nuggets of wisdom they shared with us in our In Their Own Words Q&A series. So if you’re anything like us and “write more” is one of your New Year’s resolutions, these writing tips and strategies will help you accomplish your goals in 2020 and finally finish that novel you’ve been working on. Click on the author’s name to read the full interview. Now go get writing!


Frank Waln performs at the American Writers Museum

Frank Waln

“Writing songs, poems and stories is how I process the world and try to make sense of it.”

“Powerful storytelling can create pathways of empathy and understanding across cultural, racial and socioeconomic divides that were built up to keep us separated from one another. Most Indigenous nations have strong histories and traditions of storytelling so I see my art as a continuation of that tradition.”


Tanaya Winder

Tanaya Winder

“Each piece of writing is an offering to the world to teach others something that hopefully helps them navigate this world. Writing is ceremony, writing is heartwork. Each day I try my best to open myself up and lead with my heart.”

“I do my best to celebrate every phase of the writing process I am in whether it’s completing one sentence, one line of a poem, or an entire essay or song…At the end of the day, you’re the one who pushes yourself forward and so, you need to be your biggest cheerleader.”


Colin Asher

Colin Asher

“[Nelson Algren] believed that we share a common humanity and that, consequently, our literary culture, as an expression of our humanity, must represent the least fortunate among us as well as the fortunate and powerful.”

“Avoid writing for money if you can. Instead, write about subjects you care about deeply and feel others should care about just as deeply—the cost to your soul will be lower, the work will be better, and, in the end, the financial reward may be greater.”


Elliot Ackerman

Elliot Ackerman

“Humanity has this nasty tendency to focus on our differences when it is our similarities that define us. So why do I write? I guess I write for the same reason people have always made art, which is to connect.”

“[Writing] is an assertion of our shared humanity. And in these days, it’s an inherently optimistic act.”


Bestselling writer Jasmine Guillory presents her new romance novel The Wedding Party at the American Writers Museum in Chicago on July 24

Jasmine Guillory

“Read as much as possible! Read widely, but especially in genres you think you want to write in. And then think about those books: why did you like them? Why didn’t you? Why did other people like them? And then read some more.”


R.O. Kwon presents The Incendiaries at the American Writers Museum in Chicago on July 31

R.O. Kwon

“Nothing else I do makes me feel as alive as writing can.”

“I’ll only stand a chance of being as good as what I’m reading. I try to read broadly, deeply, and daily.”


Karl Marlantes, author of Matterhorn, presents his new memoir Deep River at the American Writers Museum on August 7

Karl Marlantes

“Everyone can be a writer.”

“To be a good writer takes talent, time, and hard work. To be a successful writer takes all of that and some good luck.”


Deborah Blum presents her new book The Poison Squad at the American Writers Museum on August 15

Deborah Blum

“Don’t let writing become too solitary. Writer’s groups, or just informal friendly readers, are going to be hugely helpful in your life.”

“I’m a big believer in Anne Lamott’s theory of the ‘shitty first draft.’ Plan on rewriting. Then rewriting. Then rewriting.”


Keah Brown

Keah Brown

“Writing is my first love. Long before I was ever sure I could make a career out of it; I could be found on my bedroom floor writing out bad songs and poetry that felt like strokes of genius at the time but read back like every cliché I have ever loved.”

“I write to help foster change. I write to say ‘I am here, and I will not apologize for the space I take up in the world.’ And I write because it is what I am called to do and because I love it.”


Annalee Newitz presents their new novel The Future of Another Timeline at the American Writers Museum on October 8 at 6:30 pm.

Annalee Newitz

“Keep writing, even if you think it’s awful. You can fix it in revisions. Revision is magic!”

“After working for over a decade as a science journalist, fiction felt very liberating. I got to make things up instead of trying to get at the exact truth. I also think fiction tells truths that nonfiction can’t, especially about how human biases and hopes play into supposedly rational scientific projects.”


Saeed Jones

Saeed Jones

“All I’ve ever wanted to do was write my way into this world. And clearly my response to someone almost killing me — my response to reaffirm my right to exist — was to write about it.”

“Writing is an elevated form of reading. I think we should be reading arguably three times as much as we are writing.”

“The books I was gravitating toward were books black people wrote about their lives. And just being able to spend time with black people’s lives was really affirming to me.”


Tim O'Brien

Tim O’Brien

“[Books] were a way of escaping that childhood I was telling you about, the tensions in my house, my dad. I’d close my door and I’d go down the river with Huck Finn or go on adventures with the Hardy boys or whatever book I happened to pick up. I loved reading.”

“You can’t write while you’re bowling or going out on dates. You have to put your ass in front of a piece of paper or computer or typewriter or something and just sit there.”

“[Writing] requires the stubbornness of a donkey going up a hill.”


Rebecca Deng

Rebecca Deng

“Writing was really healing for me in a way because I was writing and had to think deeply and it took me to memories that I didn’t want to go to. A couple of times I would cry but then keep writing. And the whole process now that I look back was so healing. It was kind of like talking to my other self.”


Dominic A. Pacyga

Dominic A. Pacyga

“Once I started writing I really wanted to write. And I’m 70 years old now and I’m still writing and still happy.”

“Writing is constant…Write everyday. And understand that every word you write is not that damn perfect.”

“Writing is worth doing. It’s the greatest profession. I really believe that.”

2 thoughts on “Writing Advice for the New Year

  1. Petty Bliss says:

    Nice article, There are good techniques that you can use just like 501 words. These are some of the practices that you can adopt while you’re in the process of writing. There are other things which can help you to increase your effectiveness. But essentially, these tips are sufficient enough to develop good writing habits.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.