Friday, November 10, 2023


What I Learned about Writing Advice by Heather Weidner

 When I decided that I wanted to write a novel, I bought every book on writing that I could get my hands on. I had quite the collection, and the advice varied greatly. I spent months reading and researching the perfect technique. Then one day, I had an ah-ha moment. I was doing a lot of reading and research, but I wasn’t writing. I spent all my free time trying to find out the best way to write without developing my own skills. So, I went through all my shelves and weeded through my collection. I kept a few that spoke to me, and the rest went to the Friends of the Library.

Try new things. Learn the techniques and conventions of your genre. If they don’t improve your writing process, ditch them and try something else. You have to find what works with your style and your life. When I was reading all the advice books, I was bombarded with outline, don’t outline, write every day, write when you feel like it, make a schedule, set a word count, don’t pressure yourself with daily word counts, use this style, and don’t use that style. It made my head spin.

This is what worked for me. Again, if it doesn’t work for you, try another technique. Everyone is different and has his/her own preferences.

Writing is a business, and I needed to treat my work that way. It took me five years to finish my first novel and another two to get it published. I had to be more productive, and I needed a schedule. I knew that if I wanted to be serious about my writing and to have a series, then I definitely needed to speed up my process. I outline each book now. I also set daily word count goals when I’m working on the first draft. If I stick with my plan, I can usually finish a complete first draft in 2-3 months. I also don’t edit as I write. I finish the first draft and then move to the editing stage.

Your first draft is not your final draft. It takes a lot of rework and reviews to get it to a publishable state. There are very few writers who can create an almost-perfect manuscript on the first try.

I can’t state it enough. Writing is a business. Authors are required to maintain social media presences, host events, and promote their books. You need to make sure that one part of the writing life (e.g., writing, researching, revising, marketing, promoting) doesn’t take over and dominate all of your time. It’s a balance.

Remember, your job is to write your next book.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Through the years, Heather Weidner has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. She writes the Pearly Girls Mysteries, the Delanie Fitzgerald Mysteries, The Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries, and The Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mysteries.

Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, Deadly Southern Charm, and Murder by the Glass, and she has non-fiction pieces in Promophobia and The Secret Ingredient: A Mystery Writers’ Cookbook.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers. 



  1. I've received a lot of great writing advice from books and people, and like you, I know one size does not fit all. I've concluded the best advice is to recognize you cannot succeed by yourself. You need a community to support you (and for you to support it). Find your community.

  2. Excellent advice, Heather. I just finished my first draft, and it sure isn't perfect!!

  3. Bravo to those of you who embrace your writing as a business! While I love the thrill of seeing my work published, and sharing it with an audience is a pleasure, I don't have the drive it takes to engage in the marketing that successful authors must do.

  4. Excellent advice, Heather! It's so important to find what works and is comfortable for you. One size definitely does not fit all, or most, for writers.

  5. From one of my high school English teachers: revision is the key to success.

  6. Find some honest critique partners and lose the ones who tell you you're not "following the rules."

  7. I always joke (kinda sorta) that the best advice I received was marry someone with good health insurance.

    Heather, your advice is spot all. Writing is not one-size-fits-all. Heck, my process is still evolving even after 16 books.

    1. I need to add the health insurance one to my list.