Advice for aspiring authors

Occasionally, I get asked for advice, so I thought I would pen my thoughts down for aspiring authors, rather than repeating my advice over and over again.

Shawn Seah
5 min readJun 17, 2021


Yesterday, I received a call from a kind, generous, and entrepreneurial friend, whom I had not heard from in a long time. It turns out that he wanted advice for aspiring authors, and I was the first person who came to his mind. Naturally, I was delighted to share my advice on a topic I love writing and talking about.

Almost immediately after I had put down the phone, I received another call again. And it was another good friend asking for assistance on another type of writing. Essentially, he wanted to ask about how he could develop a particular type of narrative to thread together several essays he had written.

I have decided to help myself help others by coming up with a few simple pieces of general advice. I hope such advice can help aspiring authors think through carefully what they want to do; why they want to do it; and how they will do it.

First, accept that writing is creative work. This is true regardless of the type of writing, whether narrative non-fiction piece, fiction, or poetry. Because writing is creative work, there is a real risk that you will put in hard work and great effort with no guarantee of the outcome.

The lack of a guarantee implies that you will have to do your very best. It means that you should work hard at developing your writing skills, strengthening your knowledge and understanding of your topic, and increasing your resilience. In a knowledge-based economy, being creative is not a choice, but a necessity.

Second, you should aim to write as if you are a professional. A professional commits time and effort. A professional delivers a “beneficial change” (according to Seth Godin). A professional gives his or her very best work even when there is a risk of failure.

Aspiring writers should write as if they are professional writers: committed, dedicated, and serious.

Third, you should aim to be unique and remarkable, in all senses of the word. What is unique and…



Shawn Seah

Singaporean writer and public speaker, passionate about education, social issues, and local history and community stories.