Writing…is hard. I wanted to say something more profound about the exhausting and turbulent life of a writer and the never-ending worry of publishing and judgment, but when it comes down to it, writing is just hard. We do it anyway, though, because it’s some sort of natural instinct to use our words to say something, anything. We still write, even when we don’t want to. Even when I’ve tried to quit writing entirely, I still come back to it.
And oh, how I wish it was this beautiful, graceful moment where you sit at your perfectly messy-while-still-organized desk, take out your fountain pen, and the most profound and perfect words stream out onto the paper. No, it’s a gruesome process, fighting your way back into writing.
Luckily, we’re never in it alone. Personally, I don’t have a ton of writing friends to bounce ideas off of or get inspiration from, and I’m sure it’s the same for a lot of people. But what’s really pushed me out of a deep, dark writing slump is other writers. And thank god for the internet, because I’ve got an endless amount of writing advice to pick through!
After some deep digging, writing prompts, and podcasts, I’ve gathered some of the most helpful writing advice I’ve found, from some pretty spectacular YA authors.
I used to think writing advice couldn’t possibly be that helpful, which was probably rooted in the fear of trying something and failing, or the overwhelming feeling of incapability compared to other writers. But as I’ve listened to these successful authors talk about their process or advice for other writers, I’ve learned the true value in listening to an “expert.” And on top of that, it’s really shown me that even if I idealize an author, they get stuck too! They can feel just as incapable or unmotivated. The only difference between me and them is that I just haven’t gotten there yet. And if you’re in the same boat as me, I hope you look at these author’s as where you could be, and hopefully, some of their tips and tricks can help us get there, too.
Nina LaCour is an award-winning YA author, known for some of her best works, We Are Okay, Hold Still and Everything Leads To You. Nina hasn’t just given us a list of her best tips, or spilled some of her secrets in an interview; no, she’s given us an opportunity to deep-dive into her mind and truly understand her writing process as well as our own. On Keeping A Notebook is a podcast on writing where Nina discusses questions from listeners, typical writing roadblocks, and other musings on life. It’s beautifully crafted and spoken, and on the first episode, I was jotting down notes and feeling re-inspired to write. On top of that, she also offers an in-depth course that any writer can enroll in to get actual feedback from Nina and your peers in the Slow Novel Lab. Check out her website for more information!
There’s nothing better than having an author lay all of the helpful tools out for you on their website, and that’s exactly what Tomi Adeyemi has done! Children of Blood and Bone has been a trailblazer in YA Fantasy, and Adeyemi has graciously given us an unbelievably valuable opportunity to learn from someone who’s risen to the top. Her For Writers page is beautifully organized. Equipped with free videos, a free writing course, and a resource library, and a blog, you pretty much have it all. Her blog alone could be a month’s worth of writing exercises! From generating ideas, to finishing your book, a beginner or a seasoned professional, this is the place for you. On top of that, she has a whole section of writing prompts (my favorite!).
If you know YA and the history of its popularity as a genre, you know who Sarah Dessen is. She’s basically one of the main pioneers of contemporary YA and has the published lineup to prove it. With that comes a TON of experience, that of which she’s not afraid to share with those of us who aspire to be where she is. For me, it’s inspiring to see an author whose books I loved as a young teenager still publishing relevant novels. My biggest fear as a writer is running out of stories to tell, and Sarah Dessen reminds me that there’s always something more to explore. Check out her interview on the First Draft podcast, where she shares her experiences over the years, her thoughts on craft, and her draft process. Check out her latest article on GoodReads about writing good love interests!
Natasha Ngan is an author whose most recent novel, Girls of Paper and Fire, gained a ton of traction and is now a New York Times bestseller. I couldn’t be further from a fantasy writer myself, but the magic and world-building that Natasha uses in her novels is something that even the most contemporary writers can look up to, and even more interesting when you dive deeper into her craft. On her own website, she has a blog post with her 10 best writing tips, a great inspiration to get you motivated to write. She was also featured on the 88 Cups Of Tea podcast, where she really goes in on world-building, querying, her own personal journey writing Girls of Paper and Fire, and much more.