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Kate DiCamillo’s Six Steps To Writing

Quay Books' very own Nora (left) with Kate DiCamillo (right) at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.


Here it is again. That age-old question that every writer has been asked a hundred, a million times over. “What’s your process, what advice would you give to young writers?” Kate DiCamillo, one of only six people to ever win two Newbery Medals (for The Tale Of Despereaux and Flora & Ulysses) shares her guide to writing your own bestselling novel.

  • Write. This step may seem obvious, but is in fact one of the most overlooked. “I had absolutely no interest in writing,” says Kate, “I wanted to be a Writer.” But without spending time every day honing your craft, putting in the hard work needed to better your skills, you won’t get very far.
  • Rewrite. “You can’t sit down and expect something golden and beautiful and wise to spring forth from your fingers the first time you write” Kate says. Even your favorite author, the one you believe can turn anything into a masterpiece in an instant, had to sit and redo passage after passage of your favorite book. Never stop striving for absolute perfection.
  • Read. Just as you can’t become a world-famous chef without eating, you cannot write without also loving to read. Whether it be classics, poetry, essays, or anything else, just be sure to “read, read, read, read, read”.
  • Look. Be able to look at the world around you, to “open your heart to what you see”. How can you create your own world of magic without first being able to see it? Live in the world, and it will live in you.
  • Listen. Kate is a big fan of eavesdropping. You never know when an interesting conversation will pop up, one that will just stick in your brain and needle its way around until it finds its way down on to the page. After all, “everyone has a story”.
  • Believe in yourself. This may just be the hardest out of all six. “There is one reason that writing is so wonderful and terrifying,” Kate says, “you have to find your own way.” There is no right or wrong way to tell a story, just your own way. So make sure you hold fast to your vision and stay true to yourself.

Personally, I think that what Kate is trying to say is to be open. If you’re patient and diligent in your observation of the world, your ideas will come. I’m no professional though, I believe Kate can say it better. “If the mouse comes and sits on my shoulder and whispers another story in my ear, I will certainly write it down.”

Feel free to drop your own tips for writing down in the comments! 

If you want to learn more about Kate DiCamillo, you can check her out here!


Or, browse our collection of her beautiful novels!


The Tale Of Despereaux


The Magician’s Elephant


The Miraculous Journey Of Edward Tulane

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