I pinched this idea from recent articles in the Guardian where a number of writers are penning their ten rules for writing. I thought I'd add mine.


1 Always have a pencil and paper with you, in every handbag, shopping bag or pocket.


2. Travel by public transport, you see and meet some great characters for novels.


3. Earwig other people's conversations in cafes, bars, buses, trains. You can collect some wonderful ideas for stories and some fantastic anecdotes.


4. Watch people's body language, it adds colour to your characters.


5. Write for yourself first, it will help you to find your own distinctive voice, rather than trying to write to suit your publisher, agent, readers and ending up with something watered down and weak.


6. Don't read reviews, or if you do learn to take the rough with the smooth and then carry on writing for yourself and for enjoyment, not to please a reviewer.

7. Back up everything, regularly.


8. Have a spare computer, laptop or netbook and if one fails, and you've backed up, you can always continue writing.

9. If you get to the stage in your novel where you're bored with the story, then your reader will most certainly be bored too.


10. Writing is hard work. You don't get a pension plan, and you don't get a regular salary cheque. ­Nobody is forcing you to do this: you chose it, so don't moan, enjoy it and if you don't enjoy it, don't do it.


Needless to say I love it.

What are your ten rules?

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Comment by James Hayman on February 28, 2010 at 7:10am
Don't worry about rules. Just write.
Comment by Benjamin Sobieck on February 26, 2010 at 11:37am
Really, there's only one rule, and that is to avoid getting absorbed in lists of writing rules. There are established truths in writing. The rest are unreliable.
Comment by John McFetridge on February 26, 2010 at 7:39am
Now a reader has offered some advice.
Comment by Sunny Frazier on February 26, 2010 at 6:49am
1.Put the first word on paper. Any first word. It won't stay there, and it won't be your last. Just as a journey starts with the first step, writing starts with the first word.

2.Don't look back. Fill pages up with words. Don't ask yourself if they're the right words. Do that later. Just keep going forward.

3.Nothing is written that can't be rewritten. This is why computers come with a delete key.

4.Don't let family members read your work unless they have a novel under their belt. Find a critique group or people who have published. Those are the people worth listening to.

5.Don't talk your plot out. You will verbally write your story and be instantly satisfied. Soon you won't feel like you have to write it at all.

6.Don't announce to the world that you are working on a book. You might even want to keep your writing a secret. Friends will be afraid you'll fail. Enemies hope for failure.

7.Never worry about disappointing people. Never disappoint yourself.

8.Read up on writing, but don't spend all your time reading. Ditto for research. While fun and informative, it's not writing.

9.Don't start another novel. Commit to one project all the way to The End.

10.If you write 300 words a day by the end of a year you will have a 100,000 words, which is a hefty manuscript. That's all it takes. What are you waiting for?
Comment by I. J. Parker on February 24, 2010 at 8:04am
The snarky ones are by definition wrong: Rude bastards/bitches who lack the background to judge a book. Never, but never let them walk all over you!
Comment by B.R.Stateham on February 24, 2010 at 7:20am
Really don't need 10 rules. Five will do:

1. Believe in yourself

2. Experiment and find your own voice.

3. Write it the way you'd like to read it.

4. Expect a lot of 'No' before a qualified 'Yes.'

5. Develop a very, very thick skin. You'll need to insulate yourself from
rejections and snarky critics.
Comment by Jack Getze on February 24, 2010 at 7:16am
Loomis has covered my other five. He is an enlightened man, except that if anybody needs to self-aggrandize once in a while, it's writers.
Comment by Jon Loomis on February 24, 2010 at 7:15am
Jack--interesting. I always expect "yes." I'm outraged by every rejection. I think that's what keeps me going through those periods where I've got stuff submitted.
Comment by John McFetridge on February 24, 2010 at 5:46am
Comment by I. J. Parker on February 24, 2010 at 4:58am
Funny, especially the comments. I'm in the midst of a deadline, so won't take the time. Is it self-aggrandizing? Maybe it's just passing along hard-won experience.

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