Every writer who fills out a Powell’s Q&A is asked for the best advice they’ve ever received. Here is some wisdom:

Deborah Madison (author of
In My Kitchen) said, “Don’t be the smartest person in the room.”

Hannah Tinti (author of
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley) said, “Write something that you would like to

Jim Shepard (author of
The World to Come) said, “My thesis advisor in graduate school, John
Hawkes, always encouraged me to look for the weirdness in my own work and never
to underestimate how weird it was, and that was wonderfully helpful advice.
Most of us are secretly and hilariously convinced of our own normality.”

Lindsay Lee Johnson (author of
The Most Dangerous Place on Earth) said, “When I was growing up, my parents would always
tell me, ‘Figure it out.’ Whenever I wanted help with something, from opening a
package to finding my first job, their answer was, ‘Figure it out.’ It made me
crazy. Of course, now I realize that life — not to mention, novel-writing — is
basically one long exercise in ‘Figure it out.’”

Kyle Bravo (author of
Making Stuff and Doing Things) said, “Work incrementally. Small steps on a regular
basis can accumulate to large outcomes.”

Jessica Valenti (author of
Sex Object) said, “Any decision worth making will make you feel like throwing up.”