Best and Worst Writing Advice I ever received…


Best – “Give yourself permission to write a ‘crappy’ first draft.”

This simple piece of advice from the fabulous author, Julie Cohen, changed my entire prospective and output as a novelist.

It’s a huge achievement for anyone to finish a full-length novel but, for some writers, this can take years. If you want to give up the day job, pursue your life’s calling or simply write for the rest of your life, the fact is, you have to produce polished novel regularly and consistently if you want to eat and pay your rent/mortgage.

When you’ve beaten the writer’s odds and become a household name, there’s every chance your publisher will be more than happy for you to turn in a 100,000 word novel every year, maybe even every two years. Why? Because the chances are your name alone will give them the return they are looking for.

However, between now and then, you have to work well and hard.

For me, that possibility came with this advice – once I understood and accepted that a crappy first draft is something to work on rather than the finished product, I sat down and planned as much of my novel as I felt I needed in order to write the entire first draft without looking back. The result? My average daily output jumped from 1,000 words a day to 2,500. Admittedly, I am lucky enough to work full-time now my kids are at university, and able to write around my children, BUT if your WEEKLY output is 1,000 words and becomes 2,500, isn’t that a huge difference?

Of course, there is more work to come when you have to beat your words into shape, but won’t it be easier to alter, delete and improve a page full of words than battling with a first chapter over and over again?

Worst advice – “Give up now…you’ll never be published.” Anonymous contest judge circa 2005

Hmm, I could let this one go by without comment, but I will say a few words.

Most importantly, this advice had the exact opposite effect on me than the judge most probably intended.

For some people, this might mean they never pick up a pen or put their fingers to a keyboard again. For me, it made me more determined than ever to prove him/her wrong. It angered me, made me more passionate about my dreams and gave me the boost to carry on.

In 2007 my first novel was published…today, I have over twenty full-length novels published. The latest due for release in September 2019 and I’m working on the first draft of novel with a likely Spring 2020 release date.

I written romantic suspense and mainstream romance for Harlequin Superromance and Victorian romances for Kensington, two of the biggest romance publishers in the US. Not to mention numerous small presses and signing my first four book deal with Aria Fiction last year.

Bad advice? Yes. A great motivator? Absolutely!

Happy writing!

Rachel x


  1. My best advice was "don't ever give up," because I STILL want to give up halfway through every book! The worst was probably "write what you know," because my fields of expertise are very small. While I need to write within my own emotional limitations, writing what I actually know would shorten my list of books quickly.

    1. I absolutely agree with both! I, too, would have ran out of story ideas YEARS ago if I only used my personal experience. I have been a stay at home mum since my mid-20s and there's only so much you can write about theory!
      As for 'don't ever give up' that has to be the BEST advice ever :)