5 Tips from Literary Greats to Improve your Students’ Writing Skills…

…and make your job a little easier!


No matter what level your students are writing at, advice from a literary great is always welcome; after all, it’s comforting to know that even the revered and the famous struggle with the craft. We hope the advice below will offer some perspective, as well as a few suggestions for getting that next piece of writing started or finished!

Read, read, read. Read everything - trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it.
— William Faulkner

It may sound obvious, but this is a great place to start. Soaking up the style and mechanics of others will help any aspiring writer to find their own voice. This doesn’t mean reading just bestsellers or classical masterpieces however, because inspiration is everywhere; expose yourself to a variety of styles, voices and forms of writing.

The scariest moment is always just before you start.
— Stephen King

Getting started can be the hardest part of writing, so flex your brain muscles first; no-one wants to sit and stare at a blank screen waiting for inspiration. Start with something simple: select an object on your desk and write about it for 2 minutes.

The first draft of anything is s***.
— Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway famously wrote 47 endings to A Farewell to Arms. He described this as “getting the words right”. So instead of constantly deleting, editing, and breaking your writing “flow”, focus on getting ideas down on the page in the first draft. There are lots of ways to do this. An app like Rough Draft will encourage students to stop deleting, start writing and focus on ideas.

Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.
— Zadie Smith

Finding the perfect space to write is a challenge almost as difficult as writing itself. Find somewhere you can be alone with your thoughts, and treasure it. Discover what you need to do to remove distractions: No Facebook? No Twitter? No WhatsApp? Then do it.

Read it aloud to yourself because that’s the only way to be sure the rhythms of the sentences are OK.
— Diana Athill

Feel confident reading your work aloud, whether to yourself or others. Most people have far more experience speaking and listening to English than reading or editing. You may hear problems you can’t see.

Sometimes the simplest steps are the hardest, but also the most beneficial. Encourage your students to constantly rethink their writing process and they’ll reap the benefits. 

We made Rough Draft to help with the drafting process and encourage writing “flow”. Try it for free below and discover how it can help your students:


Stop Deleting. Start Writing. Get Ideas Out.

Discover for yourself how Rough Draft empowers students everyone to write.

Get it for your iPhone & iPad…

…and for your Mac.

Rough Draft gave me perspective; helped me understand how I approach the writing process.
— Hengtee Lim, Writer and Editor