Best Advice Ever – If You Can Quit…

There is a legendary quote that is circulating the twitterverse and bloggersphere from epic fantasy giant, R. A. Salvatore. When asked to offer one piece of advice to aspiring writers, he said:

If you can quit, you should do so. If you can’t quit, you are a writer.”

I accidentally came across the interview with the quote. The interview is by Brian Stern (thank you, sir) and the first 20 minutes in particular are, in my humble opinion, amazing. Here are the first 12 minutes. Hey, it’s Sunday! Take a break, make yourself a coffee, pour a glass of wine (or both, no one is watching) and give yourself at least 12 minutes for the first third.

Okay, I couldn’t resist. Here is the second 12 minutes.

It is amazing how Bob (may I call you Bob? I feel we’re pretty close after these interviews and having read about eight of your books) just becomes more enthusiastic with his characters as the series progresses. It feels like he truly pours all of himself into each book. What he wrote about his brother is simply stunning.

Something that I find fascinating is how he is challenged to find time to read and make his way through a series. He speaks about how authors influence each other and I think there is something very important here. I do feel that Salvatore, Terry Brooks, and more recently George R.R. Martin have had an influence on me. But I am not sure this is a bad thing.

Why not learn from the masters? Even if you are already a member of the elite fantasy A-list like Salvatore, are we not all trying to constantly improve?

Finally, here is the third and final part of the interview. There is a great part about the author’s interactions with his readers, something I discussed last week.

I know I only asked you for 12 minutes and gave you 36 minutes. I would apologize, but I don’t think actually feel sorry for doing this. Yeah, it’s 36 minutes you will never get back, but just maybe it will help and inspire you. Perhaps you just couldn’t quit!

But then if you cannot quit…read his books. Next time you go into a bookstore (yeah, they still exist), check out his amazing book covers. They are quite simply works of art. Amazing.


Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of Galbrieth, The First Decree, and Ashbar – Wycaan Master Book 3 – all released by Tourmaline Books. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at and on Twitter (@elfwriter). Hang out with Alon on Google+








6 comments on “Best Advice Ever – If You Can Quit…

  1. alexgeorgeal says:

    That’s very solid advice there from a man who should know, R.A. Salvatore. He’s absolutely right when he says that if you can quit writing, then you should. Especially for us fantasy fiction writers. There’s just so many books out there on offer and it’s harder now than ever to get published. “So, why bother writing?” I hear you ask. Well, exactly.

    Writing can be likened to a sickness, like being addicted to drugs, sex, drinking–you get the picture. If it’s in your blood, if you feel like you’ll explode unless you get those ideas whirling in your head down on paper, then, and only then do you realise why you do it.

    To be a writer you need to spend hours at it. Hours writing, hours at promoting, hours taken from sleep and hobbies, hours away from family friends, just so you can pass them with your characters, the players in your novel. It’s tough, really tough, and it’s lonely. But writers are dreamers. We keep hoping that the breakthrough will arrive, that blessed day when we can put all the rejection letters behind us, all the fruitless hours, and finally get the recognition, and funds we deserve to keep doing what we love, and that would be to write.

    I enjoyed your post, my friend. It follows pretty much what many authors have been saying about writing–nothing new there.

    Happy reading AND writing

    Alex George
    Author of Under the Dragon’s Claw

  2. Pearson says:

    I love Salvatore’s works. Great to see this quote, though I have not had the opportunity to look at the video.

  3. I definitely feel like I can’t quit writing–not only would I be miserable, but keeping all those stories bottled up inside me, all those characters yammering in my ear and not putting those words down on paper–well, I’d probably go nuts.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  4. I have read every one of your books. most of them I have read three or four times and I just cant get enough of DRIZZT.he is a hero to be sure.

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