Writing tips from the greatest writers in history

Two days ago I shared writing tips from Scott Adams. Since then I’ve been digging for more.

Back in 2010, the Guardian newspaper asked a number of popular writers for their top 10 writing tips:


Favourites here include Neil Gaiman first three rules:

1 Write.

2 Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.

3 Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.

Then I found another site with tips from George Orwell, the author of 1984 and Animal Farm:


  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

And here’s yet another treasure trove of advice put together this year (2018) by the Guardian:


Favourite here is American Nobel Prize winner William Faulker’s advice to writers:

“Read, read, read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read!

After studying all these articles from different writers, 4 tips came through for me:

1: Write every day – writing something is better than nothing. For people who don’t write that much (like me), this is a good place to start. Develop a writing habit and slowly improve.

2. Keep it simple. Scott Adams said as much. George Orwell (above) said the same thing. Write short sentences. Like this one.

3. Write the way you speak. More than a few people spoke of the natural rhythm of language. Reading is similar to listening in that we ‘hear’ the words in our heads. People are sensitive to the flow of sentences and the rhythm of words. So read aloud what you’re writing and make changes based on what you hear.

4. CUT! Most writers spend a large amount of time cutting and pruning. Is a word unnecessary to understand the sentence? If so, cut it.

That’s it. I do like these 4 rules. I think they could be further boiled down to an single visual or a catchy acronym but that’s OK for now.  Hope there is some inspiration here for someone. Keep writing!


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