"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris ... then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." Ernest Hemingway

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Famous writers' tips on writing -- 10 Writing Tips from Joyce Carol Oates

Hello there!

I'm glad you dropped by. I can't leave Yolanda Renee's guest post up forever so...I'm blogging to tell you I'm not blogging much any more.

I've been blogging since 2007 (((gulp))) and have never really taken a blog break, even when I've been travelling. It's time.

It's only a kinda blog break, because for now: I'll be:

Why am I doing this?

Like many who've left the blogosphere or have taken a long break, I'm having trouble fitting everything in. Coming up with posts is super fun, but I don't believe in posting then not returning comments which is what takes a whackeroo amount of time.

Things I've got going:

- I'm on the final round of rewrites for my Paris novel which I've been working on chapter by chapter with two wonderfully savvy critique partners - we swop chapters, print them out, then meet face to face every month. Wow. It's made such a difference to me and my writing. 

- I've rewritten my paranormal romance, have got a new cover design, now I have to decide if my books are going to be published under a pen name...which means a lot of work but may well be worth it...some advise against the pen name, pointing out that I've got all this social media capital under my real name, but I've discovered that the people who follow me on social media don't buy my books, so what's to lose? 

- I'm doing a great deal of study of writing, especially in plot and structure.


I came across these at Authors Publish and would like to share them with you. If you visit the link, you will find tips from other famous writers.

  1. Write your heart out.
  2. The first sentence can be written only after the last sentence has been written. FIRST DRAFTS ARE HELL. FINAL DRAFTS, PARADISE.
  3. You are writing for your contemporaries — not for Posterity. If you are lucky, your contemporaries will become Posterity.
  4. Keep in mind Oscar Wilde: “A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.”
  5. When in doubt how to end a chapter, bring in a man with a gun. (This is Raymond Chandler’s advice, not mine. I would not try this.)
  6. Unless you are experimenting with form — gnarled, snarled or obscure — be alert for possibilities of paragraphing.
  7. Be your own editor/critic. Sympathetic but merciless!
  8. Don’t try to anticipate an ideal reader — or any reader. He/she might exist — but is reading someone else.
  9. Read, observe, listen intensely! — as if your life depended upon it.
  10. Write your heart out.
  • Did you like the writing tips? 
  • Any tip stand out for you?
  • Do you practise any of these tips?

Thanks for coming by!


  1. Tips one and nine are my favourites.
    It's a good idea to take a small step back from blogging. It does take time and energy, especially when you have big dreams and multiple novels wanting to be written.

  2. Hi Denise - just glad to know you'll be around, even if stepping back - makes sense. WEP I shall enjoy doing ... probably in my own way - just at least I can contribute ... sometime life will be easier. I read the IWSG - so I'll keep up with where you're at ... just enjoy the travel, and all your writing and completing those new books ... and it will be interesting to see how the pen name addition works out.

    Writing tips - follow the common sense 'rules', find your voice (as you've said to me) and write on ... focus, and work hard ... and learn ... see you around soon - cheers Hilary

    1. Love your contributions to WEP, Hilary. And there's always email.

  3. I'm having a difficult time fitting in blogging too. I told myself I'd do every other week, and I couldn't manage it again.

    Good luck with your Paris manuscript.

    These are interesting tips. I definitely follow that paragraph one!

  4. I like the ideal reader one.
    I think that's a good plan. Blogging does take time, sometimes time we don't have. I'll admit I enjoyed my breaks last month and will probably take more in the future.

  5. Good luck with your writing. We all need breaks. Hope you do stick around some because we'll miss you if you don't.

  6. Break? What's that? lol so whackeroo

    Yep, it sure does take time indeed. Ideal writer one was good. Man with a gun, that can be done.

  7. I love the Raymond Chandler one! I have no doubt he lived by that.

  8. Writing my heart out!

    I finally scaled back to 2, sometimes 3 posts a month. It really helped.

  9. Whackeroo! I love that word. We all have to do what is best for us. Congrats on getting close to putting those books out there. It's a hard decision on the pen name--go with your gut.

    1. Thanks Holly. I'm still not sure what my gut is saying, ha ha.

  10. My favorite tips: ##1 and 10.
    I've never been a very busy blogger. I blog monthly for IWSG and I enjoy writing WEP posts. Other than that - an occasional post, when fancy strikes me, perhaps once in a few months, plus a publication alert, when I have a story published. So your withdrawal doesn't seem anything significant, just slowing down a bit to a manageable pace. I salute your decision.
    When I was an editor of a community newspaper (I volunteered in that position for three years), my main concern was finding stories to fill the paper. Every blogger has the same problem: finding stories. I bow to the bloggers who could do it consistently, once a week or even more often, but the stories eventually run out. Everything is finite. That's why I never participated in A to Z.
    Good luck with your fiction writing and your studies. I look forward to your IWSG posts and your WEP stories. These are always fascinating.

  11. Joyce Carol Oates was the featured guest at a writers' workshop I attended several years ago. She's one of the thinnest people I've ever seen. I decided that she's able to write so many books because she doesn't take time to eat.


  12. A lot of folks have scaled back on the blogging. Everyone has to manage their own time in their own way.

    I don't anticipate an ideal reader, other than myself. I think the most sincere writing comes from writing what you would want to read.

    And I do something like #5 a lot. Not literally a man with a gun, but in the same spirit - a big badass battleship heaving into view, spinning helpless off into space, or stepping off a high ledge. OK, sometimes a man with a gun too :)

  13. 1 and 10 are the key!
    I don't blame you, not one bit, there is so much to getting a book out there, blogging has to give way, and you're also right about comments and follow through, so important, but time consuming. I posted for the A to Z but didn't advertise my posts with the other participants, I just couldn't do the follow thru - and it's not fair to those who do. But even regular blogging has gotten harder. Maybe it'll change for me soon, but I'm not going to count on anything. I'll just keep plugging away and hope I can catch up when it really counts! I maybe fooling myself big time!?
    Good luck, and great writing!

    1. I take me 'at off to you Yolanda. My April was packed, but nowhere near as much as yours.

  14. Nos 1, 10, and 6 for me. I find solid unparagraphed text way too tough to tackle. (Had a few of those at A-Z last month!)

    And whackeroo might be my favourite new word :-)

    Have a great productive blogbreak and the very best of luck with the book!

    See you around.


  15. Taking a break from blogging can be good for your writing. I did last summer and it really helped me come to grips with WHY I was writing and what I really wanted to write. I've trimmed down my own posting and, while it doesn't fit in with most writers' blogs, I'm now blogging about things I care about and trying my hand at personal essays.

    Best of luck on your two novels and enjoy your blog break! I'm sure I'll "see" you around!

    - Jen

  16. Hi Denise!

    Great that your Paris novel is coming along nicely and thanks for all these tips. I'm taking a break but guess where I'll be...in Europe!

    1. Yay Nas. I'll be right behind you. Paris in September.

  17. I love #8! That's definitely something to keep to heart. Taking a blogging break sounds really sensible, especially considering how long you've been blogging for - wow!

    1. Yep. Long time, no real break. Which might explain why my publishing career is so slow...:-)

  18. Commenting to let you know this sounds like the thing to do. Anyway, blogging has changed from when we started "way back," you a few years farther back than I (gulp gulp and wow). And it's generally true, as I discovered also, that the ones you keep blogging with have probably, if they're going to, bought your book and you need to seek other outlets for sales. To let you know: I consider you a forever friend, sympatico for many reasons. And if I never see you in this life, maybe in that "future" one we'll meet face to face ... :) Thanks for all your support. Love ya. You have my email so do let me know when you get your next book published, that I'll buy, read, and review. And yours is one blog that I signed up for notifications, so a new post will show in my email. Cheers. Have a great summer and rest of your life!! ((( ))) from me and Jen

    1. I consider you a forever friend, too, Ann, and miss our blogging chats. Thanks for your offer to read my book when it comes out.
      Love to Jen (((hugs)))

  19. I hear you about the time issue. I wish I could just hit the pause button on the clock while hitting everyone's posts. Time really is the big thing these days, and I've stepped away from blogging enough too to know the trauma of jumping back in. Keep up the epic writing.

    1. You seem to do the jumping back in well, Crystal.

  20. Thanks for Joyce Carol Oates. Her writing is brilliant, so her advice must be also. I really liked the one about the last sentence and the first draft. I needed to read that today.

  21. Great advice! Though I'm not sure I've brought in a guy with a gun, either. I fell off of blogging the last few months, because I felt bad I couldn't visit. Testing it out again now to see if I can keep up better.

  22. Happy for you. I blog whenever I have something to say. If I don't have anything to say, I shut up. As for Oates, she and Alice Munro are two of the most prolific short story writers I know and I love them both. I love numbers 7,8,9 and 10 from Oates. They speak to my heart and say a whole lot about how I live my writing life.
    I would add one more piece of advice from what I've learned to it though.
    It is my number 11. Do What You Gotta Do. I think that where you'll find your personal rainbow. When you know that you know, you're doing what you gotta do, then you move quieter through life and you have peace with yourself and those around you.
    All the best, Denise.
    Shalom aleichem,

  23. I follow pretty much all of them except for introducing a man with a gun. :-D

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