a_r_williams (a_r_williams) wrote,

What Are Your Rules?

Last week, I posted the rules Robert A. Heinlein used in his writing career. This week, southernweirdo posted a link to this article. It contains a list of rules used by various writers. Rules are important. Good rules will help you to better achieve success. Bad rules can leave you in a never ending loop of despair.

Everyone has rules--whether they know them or not and whether they were developed consciously or by the subconscious. Taking a look at your rules for writing may help determine the course you need to chart.

My ten rules of writing:

#1. Write

I think this is the single most important element in improving your craft. Stephen King in his book "On Writing" said a writer needed to write a million words of 'crap' before they would start producing quality words.

I'm not sure about that. However, I am certain that it is important to write in order to improve.

#2. Read

Reading helps build a writers repertoire. Words are the tools in which a writer demonstrates his skill. Reading is where a budding writer can learn more of the craft, what works, what doesn't, as well as what interest them and what moves them. Knowing how to string works together is an important part of the craft. Reading--is a great help in developing this skill, because it shows writers how other have done it and also develops a writers own sense of what they like in fiction.

#3. Study

Some people say writing can't be taught. I think this isn't completely true. When you write, you reveal a part of yourself: how you think, what you believe, what you dream. This can't be taught. Also no one can teach you how to string works together in order to form a story. This is your voice. It can't be taught.

But what can be taught are the basic principles that make writing effective. By mastering those principles, a writer can better express themselves. By learning those principles, a writer can make it easier for people to understand their vision.

#4. Forgive Yourself

One of the most difficult things any person can do is try to reach the limits of their skill. It is a long arduous journey. Either visions are in your head and your words fail to bring them to life. Or you said you were going to write and you did something else. Or you look at all you have accomplished and compare it to someone elses work--and hate yourself for not being as good.

It's ok. Forgive yourself. You're not perfect.

#5 Take Responsibility

Don't make excuses. Take responsibility for your decisions. Writing is a solo endeavor. There are a lot of people who will not care one iota if you write or don't.

It's up to you to fulfill your dreams. You will not get there by making excuses.

#6 Challenge Yourself

It is by struggling to do difficult things that we grow. You have to challenge yourself in order to improve. You have to try and push the limits of what you're currently able to do. A weight lifter who lifts the same amount of weight day after day, will reach a point where they no longer grow stronger. There effort will lessen and their growth will stop.

That which does not grow is dead. Breathe life into your writing by always trying to do better than your current skill set.

#7 Set Goals

You can see the mountaintop, but you'll get to the summit by setting small daily goals. Small goals are attainable. Large goals are only a series of small goals that have been accomplished. It is important to know what you want. It is important to set goals, work to achieve them, and notice when ever your actions are causing you to veer off course. If you do stray, you need to correct those actions that are leading you off the wrong way.

#8 Believe

Writing is one of those professions where you are going to be rejected, regardless of if you have sold one hundred stories or still trying to sale your first. You're going to need to believe in yourself when everyone else is telling you they do not want this particular manuscript. You're going to have to believe in yourself when it gets rejected for the first, third, sixth, or umpteenth time.

#9 Listen

If you show your work to others--they may offer critique. It will do no harm to listen to what they say and try to figure out if it is helpful. You don't have to follow their way. You don't have to change a thing. You don't have to get angry because they don't like your work. Just listen and open your eyes to any truth they may offer. It doesn't hurt ( forever ).

#10 Know What You Want

You have to know what you want. You have to know what your story is about. You have to know you can do it. You have to know you want to write.

If you know what you want--then you can give everything inside of yourself to accomplish it. Don't hold back. Don't let other people tell you what you should want. Don't waste time going for stuff you don't want.

Know it--then go for it.

#11 There are No Rules ( stolen from southernweirdo )

Yeah, I know I said there were only ten ;P

There are no hard and fast rules to the writing game. All of them can be broken and most all of them have been. Find the rules that work best for you, the rules that motivate you, the rules that cause you to strive to be better, to reach higher.

If it doesn't work--change it or break it.

What are some of your rules of writing?
Tags: writing

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