Monday, 25 March 2013

Some rules for writing.

  1. Don't pretend there are rules for writing.  At best there are rules for your writing, but even then, they are probably just rules for writing the book you have just finished.
  2. Don't think that writing fiction makes you a guru.  Just because you can tell a story doesn't qualify you to pepper the internet with platitudes and aphorisms and lists.
  3. Don't take credit for your book jacket unless you did it yourself.  The designer doesn't take credit for your prose.
  4. Don't bang on about what a terrible job it is to be a writer.  You sound like an idiot.  Many of your readers would sell their souls to get a book published, or to even have written something worth publishing.
  5. Write every book as though it were your last.  Otherwise it might be.
  6. Don't take pleasure in bad books.  A bad book doesn't make your book any better.  
  7. Don't dismiss bad reviews because they are bad.  Not all bad reviews are wrong.
  8. Don't set limits on your achievements.  
  9. Don't set yourself goals.  Goals are just another kind of limitation.
  10. Be jealous of the achievements of others, but don't resent them.  It's not personal.  They aren't selling books to spite you.  They don't know who you are.
  11. Don't be a jerk.  
  12. Don't listen to other writers.  They lie for a living.
  13. Believe in yourself, but stop well short of worship.
  14. Don't tell complete strangers how many words you've written that day.  The postman doesn't tell you how many letters he's delivered.  No one cares.
  15. Don't tell everyone you work every day including Christmas Day and think anyone is going to believe you.
  16. Don't go on about how J K Rowling isn't a very good writer, because it gets on my nerves (see 10).
  17. Don't make an enemy of your editor or your agent.
  18. Don't wear your lack of sales as a badge of pride.  Low sales do not necessarily mean that your work is an under-appreciated work of genius.
  19. Trust your own judgement.  But not too much (see 11).
  20. Listen to other writers.  They tell the truth for a living.