Dogeared Lit

21 Harsh But Eye-Opening Writing Tips From Great Authors | Thought Catalog - Dogeared Lit Writing Tips
Written by JoAnn Chateau

Catch a few honest writer quotes about writing.

“Even the great writers of our time have tried and failed and failed some more. Vladimir Nabokov received a harsh rejection letter from Knopf upon submitting Lolita, which would later go on to sell fifty million copies. Sylvia Plath’s first rejection letter for The Bell Jar read, ‘There certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice.’… And even Jack Kerouac’s perennial On the Road received a particularly blunt rejection letter that simply read, “I don’t dig this one at all.’

…Having been through it all, these great writers offer some writing tips without pulling punches. After all, if a publishing house is going to tear into your manuscript you might as well be prepared.”

Cody Delistraty

READ MORE: 21 Harsh But Eye-Opening Writing Tips From Great Authors | Thought Catalog

One quote I think most useful is about poorly written drafts:

“Get through a draft as quickly as possible. Hard to know the shape of the thing until you have a draft. Literally, when I wrote the last page of my first draft of Lincoln’s Melancholy I thought, Oh, shit, now I get the shape of this. But I had wasted years, literally years, writing and re-writing the first third to first half. The old writer’s rule applies: Have the courage to write badly. ~ Joshua Wolf Shenk

Write in order to write.

About the author

JoAnn Chateau

JoAnn Chateau likes progressive politics and loves the canines. She sometimes writes fiction about Chester (the Alpha Bichon) and his friends -- with a dash of humor and dab of Poli-Sci. JoAnn's views and insights are tinted by her past profession in Counseling, Christian theological studies, and Library and Information Science training. Retired now, JoAnn enjoys the creative life.


  • Neil Gaiman’s advice (#18) gives me hope: “Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that — but you are the only you.”

    I’m currently in the process of finding a literary agent to represent my convent novel. Here’s the advice I received today in a rejection letter: “As I’m sure you know, the publishing industry changes swiftly now, as do readers’ tastes and trends…”

    In other words, if we are to succeed as writers, we have to be able to determine future market trends before we start writing stories only we can tell. 

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