What’s a piece of writing advice that’s held true for you?
Kill your darlings. Not as a hard-and-fast rule, but a guideline to double check yourself. If you feel inordinately proud of your own cleverness, there’s a real chance you’re being too cute.
What’s a writing strategy you’ve developed that’s worked for you?
Just start writing. It doesn’t have to be perfect from the jump, just get the thought in your head down on the paper, and then the next one. Explain it to the reader like you’re explaining it to yourself, even if it sounds dumb, even if you rewrite it later, even if it just ends up being a really verbose outline of the eventual thing. Editing — or even completely rewriting — is a million times easier than writing something for the first time, so do whatever you can do to pull yourself to the other side of that draft.
What’s your one tip (that doesn’t get discussed) for a writer trying to improve in 2022?
There is enormous value in listening to and understanding how people talk. The worst writing feels written — in the words themselves, you can feel the agony of the work’s creation. Good writing feels like someone is talking to you from the page. There’s a confidence to it, an ease that comes from understanding how real people communicate with each other, how their sentences round out, how they move between ideas.