Often Funny – Author Invented Rules for Writing

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Hello SEers. John with you today.  I think we all could use a little fun today.

I was doing some research (ahem, make that surfing the net) when I came across an article from the Guardian UK describing several author-provided rules for writing.  I was taken with the list of Richard Ford, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Independence Day. Here is his list:

1 Marry somebody you love and who thinks you being a writer’s a good idea.

2 Don’t have children.

3 Don’t read your reviews.

4 Don’t write reviews. (Your judgment’s always tainted.)

5 Don’t have arguments with your spouse in the morning or late at night.

6 Don’t drink and write at the same time.

7 Don’t write letters to the editor. (No one cares.)

8 Don’t wish ill on your colleagues.

9 Try to think of others’ good luck as encouragement to yourself.

10 Don’t take any shit if you can ­possibly help it.

I don’t think Richard warrants that you will win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction if you follow these rules, but who knows?

Another terrific list is that of Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaids Tale, 18 books of poetry, 17 works of fiction, and 11 non-fiction books.

1 Take a pencil to write with on airplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.

2 If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.

3 Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.

4 If you’re using a computer, always safeguard new text with a ­memory stick.

5 Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.

6 Hold the reader’s attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don’t know who the reader is, so it’s like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What ­fascinates A will bore the pants off B.

7 You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you’re on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.

8 You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a ­romantic relationship unless you want to break up.

9 Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.

10 Prayer might work. Or reading ­something else. Or a constant visual­isation of the holy grail that is the finished, published version of your resplendent book.

Here is the link if you would like to see other lists by other authors; most are quite funny, including Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/20/ten-rules-for-writing-fiction-part-one

How about you? Do you have any advice for your fellow authors? If so, let us have it in the comments. Hope you all have a super week.

119 thoughts on “Often Funny – Author Invented Rules for Writing

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