My 10 rules for writing

It was the last class of my local writing group on Monday, a long break for the summer until we reconvene in September. I’ll mop up a couple of loose ends later in the week but, for now, here’s my homework from the previous week. The brief was “10 excuses for not doing your homework” which I altered a bit, inspired by the memory of a corporate, motivational, change-your-life style speaker I saw last year at a work event (guy called Jim Lawless who has a book out called “10 rules for Taming Tigers”). That day is a story for another time…

So here, not entirely seriously, are 10 rules for doing your writing homework. The only other things you might need to know are that Sally is the name of the person that keeps our motley crew in good order and leggy blondes are a standing, group in-joke.

  1. Write it. Just write it. Scribbled on a napkin, scrawled in a book, typed neatly on a page – it doesn’t matter. Just put words down on some kind of page in some kind of order. Grammar is optional. Spelling is for spell checkers. Write.
  2. Ignore the instructions. Sally won’t mind. If no inspiration comes based on the instructions then ignore them in deference to rule 1.
  3. Don’t count words. Make words count.
  4. Take inspiration from wherever you can. Sometimes this may involve stealing stuff and making it your own. I must have stolen number 3.
  5. Don’t measure the worth of your work against other people’s. You’re probably not going to write “Hamlet” but then Shakespeare might not have done either. Marlowe always seemed quite plausible to me.
  6. If you get stuck just write something else. Edit later. Research later (or possibly earlier). They’re different things.
  7. A leggy blonde will always help any story. And so will the marvelous people at your local writing group.
  8. No one can really tell you exactly how to do it. Whilst this may seem disheartening it also means no one can really tell you that you’re doing it wrong.
  9. You’ll probably be your own harshest critic. Let someone else read what you write and you might be pleasantly surprised. If you’re not pleasantly surprised then defer to rule 8 and ignore them.
  10. Ten rules seems overly complicated for what is essentially a process of making stuff up and writing it down. So ignore all of this. Except the first one. Write.

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