Writing Advice from Sisters Alyssa and Courtney Sheinmel


The holidays are fast approaching, and for a lot of us, that means it’s family time. Growing up, family time often meant reading time. And more often than not, reading time turned into writing time. Just as other kids sat around the table drawing pictures, we wrote stories. (Though we definitely drew our share of pictures, too!) It seemed like we never ran out of tales to tell, and as soon as we figured out that writing stories was an actual job that adults got paid for, we both knew exactly what we wanted to be when we grew up. Over the years, we both learned a lot about reading, writing, and storytelling. Here are just a few of the lessons we learned along the way:thumbnail

Courtney’s number one piece of writing advice: Don’t worry about writing well when you’re starting out; just get the words on the page. Like most writers I know, I have days when I like what I’m writing, and days when I think the words on the page are the worst words in the world. But no matter what kind of day I’m having, my goal is to get 1,000 words written. They don’t have to be the perfect words. They just have to be there, moving the story forward. If I do that, I count it as a good writing day, and I know there will be time to edit later.

Alyssa’s number one piece of writing advice: Never stop reading. I truly believe that I learn something about how to write from every single thing I read, whether it’s a novel or a memoir or an essay or even a chapter out of a textbook. You never know what’s going to inspire you.

Courtney’s treatment for writer’s block: I think there’s always something to say. The problem is, it may not sound very good. But then I go back to my writing advice: Don’t worry if it sounds good; just write it. I’d rather have bad words on the page to edit than no words at all.

Alyssa’s treatment for writer’s block: I have two completely contradictory ways of dealing with writer’s block. One is to just stop trying to write for a little while. Get up, watch TV, read, walk my dog—sometimes I just need to take a break in order to get my brain ready to write again. But then there are times when I try to write my way through writer’s block instead. If I’m lucky, just knowing that I can go back and rewrite later is enough to get me unblocked.

About the Authors
Courtney Sheinmel has written over a dozen books for kids and teens, including Sincerely, Positively,
and the Stella Batts series for young readers. In a starred review, Publishers

Weekly said her debut young adult novel, Edgewater, “captivates with its masterful storytelling style and intricate detail.” Courtney hopes you’ll visit her online at CourtneySheinmel.com and follow her on Twitter at @courtneywrites and Instagram at @courtneysheinmel.

Alyssa Sheinmel is the author of several young adult novels, including Faceless and Second Star, as well as the co-author of The Haunting of Sunshine Girl. New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice called Faceless “gorgeous and wrenching. . . . A vivid, compelling, beautiful, immediate novel.” Visit Alyssa online at AlyssaSheinmel.com or follow her on Twitter at @AlyssaSheinmel.

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