The shared feature of all great writers is that they make a contribution, which makes it the most important thing on your "to do" list as a writer.

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Whether you're an old hand or a newbie who is serious about learning to write, the advice is the same: dig in and get that first book out of you.

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"You don't give up writing," says Warren Adler. "If you're a true artist, this is your artistry. Keep writing, keep reading, and stay curious. When in doubt, write on."

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Most authors probably wish they had a gauge of some kind to stick into the pages to tell them when their book is done. It’s not just new, inexperienced writers who have that wish. Most published authors I’ve posed the question to say the same thing: it’s hard to know when to put down the virtual pen.

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The emotional map of your book is different than the plot, though the two are tightly related. Being aware of this emotional current can bring clarity to your writing, and is a powerful way to progress your story.

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Much of the joy and discovery of creative writing comes from the process itself. I'm finding inspiration and motivation from the very characters I've created.

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Maybe that's part of the nagging sensation I'm fighting, that I'm not really an author. And until I finish my first book, I guess that's true. What makes an author? Having a great story to tell? Having the ability to craft the words and descriptions to make it come alive? Sure, that and a finished manuscript.

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