Patricia Wrede to New Writers

Speaking at the National Book Festival on October 8, 2004, Novelist Patricia Wrede was asked what advice, besides “Read, read, read,” she’d offer to new writers. I am posting part of her response here for those who might be interested but don’t have the capability to play the webcast. (It runs a total of 37 minutes, which isn’t that long, but unfortunately it is long enough to cause buffering troubles over some dial-up connections, from my experience before I finally entered the 2000s and went with high-speed.)

If you do have a broadband connection, I highly recommend that you follow the link below and watch it for yourself.

“First and foremost, write every day, whether you feel like it or not. That’s probably the thing that separates a professional writer, one who actually makes it, who actually gets things finished, from people who just think about it and talk about it and kind of want to do it but never get around to it.

“That’s probably the most important thing, is to write every day, whether you think you have anything to say or not, whether you know what’s going to happen or not.

“Bear in mind that every writer works differently, and it works differently for every writer. If you’ve got to read “how to write” books or listen to writing advice, get it from a bunch of different people, so that you get a whole bunch of different advice, and then you can pick out what works for you.

“I see more people get hung up because they latch on to their favorite writer, and “how do you do it?” and they go home and try to do the same thing. And they’re not that kind of writer.”

(Her complete talk is on a webcast at the Library of Congress website, here. If you have the means to view it, I recommend it.)

Get a bunch of advice and decide what works for you. It wouldn’t be fair at all to say that she is encouraging writers to seek such advice, but it is clear that for those who do want it, the more variety you can get, the less likely you’ll be to try to force any single method into your writing. That may not work for everyone, but for some, it might. You have to decide for yourself if you are interested in how others do it and I think it would do no harm to decide up front that you won’t let someone else’s methods override your own instincts when you feel that yours are working better.

Wrede has other things to say with regard to writing and her own published works. I was intrigued by the mention of an interesting writing exercise that began as a game with author Caroline Stevermer and ended up producing the novel, Sorcery and Cecilia. I’ll file that one away for some future experimentation.


  1. thanks for posting this. unfortunately I have a slower DSL…*cry* You know, it’s funny, just hearing what I already know (write every day, read read read) helps to instill it further. Especially when it comes from the professionals..:-)
    (and btw, I had to type in some letters before submitting this msg…hope that means you won’t be getting spam anymore!)

  2. Thanks for the info, Shelly. This was the first time it’s happened to one of my Blogger blogs, but AOL has been having similar problems as well over the past few weeks.

  3. You were spammed. I’ve been getting them on all my Blogger blogs the last few days. The very long one supposedly from the Timber Industry was especially annoying. Blogger is looking to put in uh, that thing where you have to type in a scrambled looking word in order to comment (can’t think of what it’s called now) to cut down on comment spam which is usually sent out by bots, the way they now require you to type that in to start a new blog.

  4. The two earlier comments have been deleted. The first was merely a hyperlink with no additional comment. The second advertised a podcast and provide a link to a site promoting a cure for cancer.

    If you have a comment pertinent to the entry, feel free to say it. If not, you’re gone.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.