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Create Space for Stillness

When we asked the Erma writing community for their best writing advice for 2022, the resolutions poured in.

Here are some inspiring words for writers seeking to take their talent up a notch in the new year:

Dive In.

“Write from where you are. If you’re in a place to write a novel, write a novel. If you’re in a place to write short stories, write those. If you can only eek out a to-do list for the day, at least you’ve written something.” Rhonda Havig

“If I can’t find the funny but I am feeling moved by a serious story, I write that. Just keep going in whatever direction you can.” Mary Kay Fleming 

Let Go of Perfection.

“Rewrite. My writing is not ‘precious’ to me. I am crafting and shaping it like a sculpture, like directing a movie, like making a pie. The writing is an organic thing, a garden of words. Transplants and pruning required.” Patricia Wynn Brown

“You can make it better later — first, you have to make it exist.” Katrina Kittle

“Write everyday. Even if you think it’s garbage. Write. Even if you never publish all of it. Write.” Lauri Walker

“First drafts suck. They're supposed to suck. If what you're writing looks like garbage ... Just. Keep. Writing. The magic happens in the editing process. Don't worry about getting it right, just get it written.” Ann Cunningham Morrow

“Stop disparaging your drafts. A first draft is like a rehearsal; it's all good. It's there to mine. A second draft paves the way for the third. A penultimate draft gets you to the end. EVERY draft is part of a healthy creative process and the more you ridicule your ‘imperfect’ drafts and call them names, the more you waste emotional energy and time.” Joni B. Cole

“Velcro your butt to the chair and do it.” Suzette Martinez Standring

“Just write! It can be edited or changed later but only if you write it first.” Kim Davis Reynolds


“Persist, insist, resist as needed. I've found a home for two stories after 15 years of rejections.” Ann Liska

“Keep at it, even when you don't make the word count or meet the goals. Keep writing whenever you can.” Cindy Eastman

“Perseverance and belief in yourself.” Janie Emaus

“Don't lose that confidence, don't think you can't do it any more, and don't stop, because this is how your words begin to disappear.” Alexandra Rosas

“Believe in yourself. Continue to write, even if you don't.” Helene Fluhr Hinsey

“When you lose one opportunity, turn around and apply for five more!” Tracy Beckerman

“Perseverance; perseverance; perseverance. As I have often mentioned to writers, I have had things rejected several times, but never gave up. Sometimes, I tweak if I think the advice warrants it; other times, I put the manuscript in my drawer and take it out a week, a month, or maybe even a year or two and try again. I've done this with several that have gone on to be books. It's just a matter of timing. Also, editors and publishers change like shoppers through revolving doors, so what one may not like, another will adore. Perseverance is the key.... My agent is amazed at how this continues to work out and, frankly, so am I. But if I think something is worthy to be out there, I keep plugging. You should, too. Just keep at it.” Allia Zobel Nolan

“Never be discouraged in finding the RIGHT agent. After writing the very best manuscript and had it critiqued and had beta readers' remarks, I was ready to find an agent. I've queried 28 over the past three months with 18 very nice, supportive rejections. However, there's an agent out there for me, I just need to be patient and wait. In the meantime, I've got two more novels in the process and finished the outline for another one.” Helen Aitken

“Keep writing.” Sarah Guthrie

Edit, Edit, Edit.

“Kill your darlings!” Anne Saker

“A simple sentence is the most difficult to write. Edit, edit and edit some more. Excise adverbs and adjectives. You are not getting paid by the word.” Mary Anne Sharkey

“Hire a pro editor if you can swing it. The good ones are collaborators, not dictators.” Nancy LaFever

“Most people wait until they are done to submit their writings to someone. Often, that someone is a family member or friend who is "good in English" and/or free. Hire a ‘real’ editor to edit your chapter while you write the next one. This was the smartest thing I did with my books. Check out Fiverr for professionals, but read the reviews and send them a small writing sample so you can test the waters. Having someone look at your stuff along the way will keep you and your creative juices flowing. It will keep you accountable because we all know the hardest thing for a writer to do is sit down and write. Best of all, you will get quick feedback that can help you make your messages stronger and more appealing to the reader. If the professional whittles out the nonsense you believe everyone MUST read along the way, it will be easier to stay on point. And you might actually finish your project.” Donna Fuller

“My 2 cents: Don't wait until ‘you have time’ and hire a professional editor.” Paula J. Braley

“Read your work out loud.” Elaine Ambrose 

Seek Feedback.

“Seek supportive, honest feedback — feedback that puts equal emphasis on what is working, as well as opportunities for development and strengthening.” Joni B. Cole

“Get a writing partner! For accountability. For reading one another's work. For encouragement. For all the things.” Lauri Walker

“Never take reviews or rejections personally — ever. It's all a matter of taste.” Karen Bell-Brege

“Recognize what you need help with and be willing to pay it, or at the least, ask for it.” Pam Sievers

Cultivate the Right Mindset.

“Create space for stillness.” Kerry Kane Miller

“Turn off social media.” Kris Seman

“Write every day, even a couple words. Little habits build on themselves.” Chris R. Weilert

“Read read read! And try all formats and genres. Right now I’m having a blast with micro-fiction (under 250 words) and entering contests.” Stephanie Mark Lewis

“You're never too old to get started.” Karen Bucci

“Remember that you are a real writer.” Pat Nelson

“Be bold!” Karen Lippert

Lighten Up.

“Write drunk, edit sober, hit “submit” hungry, eat cake after.” Caroline Hershbach

“Forego personal hygiene for more writing time.” Tracy McArdle Brady 

Invest in Yourself.

“Invest in yourself as a writer. Treat yourself to EBWW22, in-person or virtual. You’ll be inspired, learn so much and join a fabulous community of writers. Challenge yourself by entering a contest (the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition’s deadline is 8 p.m. EST, Jan. 4). Both are good for your writer’s soul.” Kathy Shiels Tully

“My best piece of advice is to not let the shine fade away after you leave the Erma workshop. I was so hyped up after attending the 2018 workshop in person and full of big ideas and big plans, but slowly I let my enthusiasm, excitement, and energy fade away. I continued to write but not with the same fervor and belief I acquired at the workshop. Try to retain all the good workshop juju and lose all the crap that’s not helpful.” Dana Cotton Starr

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