Posted in Writing, Writing craft, YOuTube

5 Great Writing Tips from Five Great Writers

In these days of social media, it seems that new and wannabe writers often look to other newbie writers for advice and direction. This behaviour always seemed odd to me. In most other fields, people would look to those who have mastered their craft.

Over the years, I’ve often looked to the great writers for their best advice for writing and the writer’s life. The truth is that not all of their advice is applicable, but there is much to be learned from what they have to say.

This week, I have five tips from five great writers.


  1. Always stay a student to your craft. If you ever feel as if you’ve mastered writing and fail to focus on ways to continually improve, you are fooling yourself―but you won’t fool the readers. 
    1. “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” —Ernest Hemingway
  2. Never fool yourself into thinking that your contribution (or potential contribution) to the world of books and writing is irreplaceable.
    1. “If I had not existed, someone else would have written me, Hemingway, Dostoyevsky, all of us.”—William Faulkner
  3. Reading is the lifeblood of writers. If you don’t read―a lot―don’t write. Ever.
    1. “The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”—Samuel Johnson
  4. If you think writing success is a simple result of knowing the rules for creation, you might as well stop writing now. There are no rules.
    1. “There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.”—Doris Lessing
  5. Write because you have to, not because you care what others will think of you.
    1. “Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.” —Virginia Woolf


If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” Stephen King

One day, I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” Robert Frost

And my personal favourite

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

Posted in Backstory, Writing craft, YOuTube

Improving Your Writing…5 Tips at a Time

I started my writing career over thirty years ago. I began with a writing passion that had burned brightly since I was a teeny-bopper (does anyone use that word anymore?). I remember being twelve years old and wondered why a kid my age couldn’t write a book. Of course, anyone can write anything. As a writer matures, though, the question becomes not whether I can write but whether I should write. My answer was always a resounding yes. I had to write. What’s next, then?

For everyone who writes, there comes a time when we begin to think about getting what we write published. I started as a freelance health and medical writer because my educational background led me in that direction. But I wanted to do more. So, I wrote a book.

What did I know about writing a book? I did a lot of research. In those days, that research involved lots of writing books. There was no internet to browse, no other writers to connect with online. I was on my own. So, I read a lot of books and writing magazines, and I took a few courses. I learned a lot by trial and error. After my first book was picked up by a publisher and finally made it to trade paperback, I started teaching writing.

Along the way, I had also picked up a graduate degree in strategic health communication (like you do!). I began consulting in corporate communications alongside my writing, which led a corporate communication program at a local university to ask me to teach. I started teaching print media, essentially a writing and design course for print communication tools. That began an unexpected twenty-six-year academic career, ending up as a full Professor of Communication Studies. All along the way, I never stopped writing―both as a job requirement and for myself.

Most of my books were published by traditional publishers. Still, along the way, I took several forays into self-publishing, even publishing teaching materials that eventually became a book that I sold to a large American textbook publisher. Now, I write only for myself―women’s and historical fiction. (and the odd writing reference book when I have time_.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from a lot of people―readers, editors, students, book authors, YouTube video presenters, among them. Now, it’s time to give back.

I’ve also learned one more thing: time is a precious commodity. So, I thought, what if I could provide bite-sized pieces of writing advice to budding writers―and others who want a fresh perspective―in a format they could easily access?

Born from that idea is my newly launched series on YouTube. Write. Fix. Repeat. Making you a better writer, five tips at a time.

I’ve just uploaded the first episode based on a blog post I did last year on the five characteristics of great writing. I thought it might be a good way to get started.

If you’d like five tips a week, subscribe and come along with me on this journey. I guarantee we’ll all learn something―especially me!