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 Jon Loomis on February 24, 2010 at 4:40am
Jon Loomis’s Ten Rules for Writers

1. Never mix brown and white liquors.

2. Marry a rich person. Maybe a doctor. Almost no one makes a living just by writing, and it’s good to have a doctor around because writers usually don’t have health insurance.

3. No one’s going to write it for you, so stop procrastinating, sit your ass in a chair and get to work.

4. Try to exercise once in a while. You’re going to get fat, sitting on your ass all day.

5. Hire servants. All the great writers had servants.

6.a. Never work on spec if you can avoid it.

6.b. Never, ever give your work away for free. Teaser samples are fine, and part of the industry, as are stories in journals. But giving away whole novels on Kindle or wherever is a tacit admission that you think your work is crap. Selling them for 99 cents, ditto. Have a little self-respect, for God’s sake.

7. Decide what’s most important to you: writing well, or making money. If it’s making money, go to business school and get an MBA in finance.

8. Read good books. If you read crap exclusively, even if said crap is commercially successful, there’s a better than even chance you’ll write crap.

9. Story is important, but don’t compromise on craft. Work hard at dialogue and description. Learn the rules of point of view. Focus like a laser on scene writing. If you can do these things well, your manuscript will stand head and shoulders above 99% of the stuff agents and editors reject every day.

10. Never make lists of rules for writers. They’re always self-serving, self-aggrandizing wastes of time. Work on your book instead.
Comment by Jack Getze on February 24, 2010 at 4:00am
1. Never expect anything but "no."

2. Remember you're an artist, part one. Like painters, dancers, singers, and comics, it is extremely unlikely your endeavors will ever support you or a family. Don't expect them to.

3. Remember you're an artist, part two. Some people won't like your work or you. Screw them.

4. Write every day. It's what you do, it's who you are.

5. There are all kinds of writers and all kinds of books. Do what you enjoy, what entertains you, not what you think will sell.

I'll work on the other five later.
Comment by B.R.Stateham on February 24, 2010 at 3:05am
I really agree with rule No. 5. I think that's where a lot of beginning writers make their first mistake. They write to mimic some other writer's voice.

Equally agree quite emphatically with rule No. 4. Body language is quite important.

Partially agree with No. 9. But there's a cavaet to that; writing is a lot like a chess game. Once you get to the middle game one move (or plot line) is of equal value to another. So you begin to slow down and contemplative.

Can't say I'm too hot on rule No. 1. Carrying paper and pencil in a purse just won't do for me.

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