I've never been one for New Year's resolutions, but in keeping with the theme this month, I'll share a handout I offer at some of my workshops. I call it ADVICE TO MYSELF. These are things I always try to bear in mind along the writing road, not just with the turn of the calendar, but whenever I'm writing, facing the slog, feeling stuck, or just contemplating the nature of the work itself. 

Here's wishing you all a happy, productive writing year in 2018! 
  • The more you work on it, the better it tends to get (usually).
  • There are no shortcuts.  (But there are good days.)
  • “I find the harder I work, the luckier I get.”  – Unknown
  • I’m not doing myself any favors by broadcasting what I don’t like about my own work.
  • Stop worrying about whether it’s character driven, plot driven, or what. Just write it.
  • I am who I am. (aka, I’m not Edith Wharton. I watched too much t.v. as a kid. Deal with it.)
  • Yes, most of my ideas probably exist elsewhere.  So what?
  • There are (arguably) no bad ideas. It’s all about execution.
  • “The best way to bore someone is by leaving nothing out.” – Voltaire
  • Kill your darlings. 
  • “Never wish more than you work.”  - Rita Mae Brown
  • Stillness, silence, staring into space—it’s all part of the work
  • “We must understand and accept that we lose half of our audience the moment we open our mouths.”  - Kate DiCamillo
  • Write to your ideal reader.  And write to please yourself first.
  • Trust your instincts. For real.
  • “My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: when you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip.”  - Elmore Leonard
  • When in doubt, ask yourself: What are the questions I should be asking myself right now?
  • Follow your curiosity, not your passion. – paraphrased from Elizabeth Gilbert
  • “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” – Albert Einstein
  • Tell the truth. 
  • Don’t save your ideas for later. There will always be more.
  • eedback is a gift. That means you can do what you want with it. (But keep an open mind.)
  • Dreck is part of the process. So is falling out of love with your idea. Keep going anyway.
  • You are a writer if you want to be one.  Think of yourself as a writer.  Call yourself as a writer.  Don’t wait to get published for this to happen.
  • Tell a good story first and worry about the moral later.  No one wants to read a moral.
  • I may get better at this as I go along, but that doesn’t mean it gets easier.


  1. Wonderful food for thought to keep us on track when we write. Thanks Chris.

  2. Okay, I'm adopting "The harder I work, the luckier I get." ;)

    1. One of my favorite truisms.... though I've never been able to find a definitive source. Ah, Google...was it Thomas Jefferson? Tyra Banks? Hard to tell.... :-)

  3. Great list of advice tidbits. The one that spoke to me most this morning was: "I'm not doing myself any favors by broadcasting what I don't like about my work." Yes! Why do I keep on DOING this?

    1. It's been one of my biggest writing/creative struggles. It's always so tempting to tell someone (esp. an editor) that I know this, that, and the other thing aren't perfect...because I want to make sure they know that I know... but by the same token, I have begun to find (and duh), I'm my own worst critic, and more often than not, only detract from someone's reading experience by preloading them that way.


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