I’ve been conducting exhaustive research into the advice from established authors to aspiring writers. After compiling results in a spreadsheet and undertaking extensive statistical analysis, I can confirm that 92.47% of successful authors advise the following:
Yes, that’s it. That’s the big secret to success. You need to continue to pursue two of the three Rs you began at school. (As a qualified mathematician, I also continue to pursue the third R which may grant me bonus points but is probably irrelevant.)
Only 1.38% of respondents advised taking a writing course.
Analysis of a subset of values for Advice Point 1 revealed the following crucial advice:
Find your own voice and write from your passions.
In other words, don’t try to be what you are not. Don’t attempt to second guess what publishers and/or the public may or may not want to read. If you write it your way about things you love, the rest will take care of itself.
What a magnificently freeing thought.
“The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.”
– Neil Gaiman
*NB: All statistics quoted in this post are completely fabricated. As all good statistics are.