Tips from top writers

The teachers at a Hawaii literary retreat offer advice As the authors of, between them, eight books, the members of the faculty at the 2015 Mokulē‘ia Writers Retreat will draw on wide experience as they share their wisdom with writers at the Hawaii gathering. They’ll have a whole week to guide writers through exercises, but we asked them to share just one secret with readers of this blog. Here’s what they had to say: Don Wallace, author most recently of a memoir titled The French House, was succinct: "Carry a small notebook and use it!" he emailed. “Then don't lose it.” Zoe FitzGerald Carter, also the author of a memoir (Imperfect Endings), was a little more metaphorical.
I'd have to say rewriting. It's easy to read something brilliant and lyrical and assume that the writer just opened a vein and let it pour out. Just as a good singer makes a song look effortless, hiding the technique and practice that went into creating that "spontaneous" performance, a lot of crafting, considering, and rewriting is involved in creating a stunning passage.
Steven Goldsberry, author of The Writers Book of Wisdom: 101 Rules for Mastering your Craft, advises "Write like you talk." And, finally, Kathryn Ma, author of The Year She Left Us, warned about how a writer must strike a balance between pleasing his or her own ear, and seeking feedback from others:
When I was starting out, an established writer gave me some advice that has been helpful: “Do not show your work too early.” Though we're all eager for feedback, you need time to develop your own voice and vision for a piece of writing  before getting input from others. After you have shared your work with others, decide which comments are useful to you and which you can set aside. Over time, you may find a couple of readers whose taste and editorial judgment are really helpful to you. Hopefully, you can be a good reader for their work as well, if they are writers, or return the favor in another meaningful way.
Here’s a more thorough glimpse of each of the books mentioned in this post: The French House: An American Family, a Ruined Maison, and the Village That Restored Them All, by Don Wallace (Sourcebooks, 2014). Imperfect Endings: A Daughter's Story of Love, Loss, and Letting Go, by Zoe FitzGerald Carter (Simon & Schuster, 2010) The Writer's Book of Wisdom: 101 Rules for Mastering Your Craft, by Steven Goldsberry (Writers Digest Books, 2004) The Year She Left Us, by Kathryn Ma (Harper, 2014)   The 2015 Mokule‘ia Writers Retreat is sold out, but please visit for more information or email to be added to the mailing list for next year.

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