Tuesday, March 2, 2010

10 Rules for Writing

The authors included in the above link are several things I am not. First, they are quite famous. Second, they are quite famous for writing fiction. I could add that they might be more likely sources of writing advice than someone who has never been on Oprah, but I won't. So there.

Anyway, in line with their thoughts on writing, I wanted to add some of my own.

1) Be open to inspiration. There is no one way to write, especially when it comes to individual writers. I know many folks who swear by certain, specific patterns of writing. But they break those patterns all the time--and call those breaks inspiration, as if that is somehow outside the purview of writing-as-practice.

2) Friends don't let friends drink and write. Consider yourself a friend.

3) Savor good phrases, even if you have to get rid of them later. They were part of the story at one point, if only for a little while. Plus, they might end up somewhere else, and you want to be able to look them in the eye.

4) Never use the word "very."

5) Jonathan Franzen reminds us that the reader is a friend, and I agree. I also think that chaos should be treated as a friend. Creativity comes from chaos, and that's a pretty marvelous exchange.

6) Read things out loud. It's like a litmus test for meaning. The right words feel good in your mouth.

7) When someone you love reads your words and praises you, listen. You would if they were cursing you.

8) Take breaks. I find that episodes of "The Wire" work especially well in this capacity.

9) Start and stop before you feel ready to do either.

10) Feel free to write stuff on random parts of your body so that you don't forget it. The back of my hand is my favorite mnemonic device.

No comments: