10 Writerly Rules

Busy Bee!
Writing is a process. It's not just about putting words on a page, even though that is obviously an essential element, but many other areas need to be considered and practiced in order to progress and achieve success.

As writers, we are often asked questions like: What do you do all day? Just sit and write? Don’t you get bored? Isn’t it lonely?  At first, I struggled to answer such questions in a coherent way so I began devising a set of rules (a bit like Gibbs’ Rules on NCIS). The list is ever growing as I learn new things. I'm currently at Rule 67.  Here are 10 of my more basic rules, in no particular order.

#1 Write every day, no matter what type of writing. Then, you get better at writing every day.

#2 Always carry a notebook and pen (preferably several pens).

#3 Make lists of your favourite words, books, places and things.

#4 Read! Read! And read more!

#5 Don’t settle on just one style. Explore! Try new things.

#6 Only set yourself realistic targets. You can always do more.

#7 Go for walks. Dance round the living room in your pyjamas. Pull weeds. Do dishes. Write about it.

#8 Always carry a camera. Take pictures of things that inspire you. Write about it.

#9 Talk to like-minded people. It doesn’t have to be about writing but it’s useful if the other person can relate to your wacky ideas that unexpectedly pop into a conversation.

#10 Stomp out feelings of guilt, fear, frustration, brain-freeze. I have cards with their names on them and literally throw them on the floor and stomp away. It helps. Try it.

As many of you know, once the finished product is ready or almost ready, then there are a whole host of other rules to contemplate. Eeek! Like I said, writing is a process and that process takes a lot of time, patience, perseverance and a whole heap of gumption!

If you could share one writing rule with us, what would that be?

Comments

  1. I LOVE #10. I need to do that. And #4, YES!!!! I scratch my head when people say they're a writer and have read only a hand full of books in the last year. You can't be an author without being a reader first.

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    1. I love reading now more than ever. Thanks for popping by, Crystal.

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  2. Yes, I need to follow #10 s little more.
    My favorite rule (other than "you can never have too many spaceships") is "Don't be afraid to write an awful first draft." That's what editing is for.

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    1. I like your rule, Jennifer. Quashing the fear bug is a must :) Have a lovely week and thanks so much for visiting.

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  3. Stephen King said that reading is what is necessary for us to grow -- so did William Faulkner and Hemingway. Twain said -- write for free until someone pays you to do it. I guess he meant we grow by doing. :-)

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    1. Well, I am certainly practicing what Twain said - at the moment. But enough is enough :)I admire Stephen King's continued enthusiasm for his craft. Love to watch his seminars (but I must admit, I can't read his books - but that doesn't matter. He's got loads of fans)

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  4. #2 made me laugh because I always have lots of pens with me - it must be a writer thing worrying about the ink running out :-) I am definitely going to try #10.
    I'll say read what you've written out loud - it's surprising how many mistakes or stumbles leap out when you do that. Great post :-)xx

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    1. Great tip: reading out loud, Teresa. I've found so many repetative words by doing that. I drive myself nuts at times :)

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  5. A great post, Nicola. I found myself ticking off which points on your list of rules I already do and which ones I really should start doing! #5 rang true for me this week when I submitted my first ever horror story and I loved #10. I must start stomping!

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    1. That's great, Jan. When I stepped out of my comfort zone and wrote a gentle (ish) ghost story for WM I got a mention. YAY! Thanks for popping by.

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  6. #9 is great. Only other writers really understand. And #10 is brilliant.

    I would add, when you're feeling stuck, write about what you feel stuck about. It opens things up like you wouldn't believe.

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    1. That's a great tip, Liz. I'll have to remember that one. Thanks for popping over. Great to see you!

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  7. I never imagined there are so many rules. I'm soooo behind.

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    1. I just use them as motivation. Really, there are no rules - just go for it :)

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  8. Literally stomp on the cards - that's funny. Bet it works!
    My writing rule is 'Thou shall not suck.'

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    1. Stomping is always good, Alex :) Lovin' the rule. I'll add that to mine, if you don't mind :)

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  9. These are good rules. You're right - writing is a process, and you need a lot of patience!

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    1. patience with a hug capital P :)

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  10. I used to think #1 was important, but I don't anymore. I know that I can write everyday if I want to, but once I figured out that I actually could do it, it no longer seemed important. I used to worry that I wouldn't have enough material for my blog, and that I needed to generate consistent interest by serving something up on a consistent basis. I still feel the need to keep the blog fresh, but for me, 2-3 times a week is more than enough.

    For me, #4 is absolutely vital. Writers need stimulus, and not just any stimulus. True, I have gotten writing ideas from watching television, but reading someone else's words is a trigger that makes me want to do the same thing myself.

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    1. I admire that you blog 2 or 3 times a week. I'm only able to manage once a week at present.

      I like to watch the news for ideas too.

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  11. People ask if writers get bored writing? What could be more fun than writing a good story! :) My wife trained me to always bring a book with me wherever I go...provides great grist for a writer's mind:)

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    1. :) Thanks for stopping by Mark. I do visit your blog regularly but am unable to comment as it tends to only offer one way of commenting. Hmmm. Nevertheless, exciting times for you on the lead up to your début novel. Enjoy the journey.

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  12. My only writing rule is to write what makes you happy. It's what works for me :)

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  13. Great rules! Mine - Read out loud (especially true for poetry!) Watch sunsets. Do the edits after a break. Don't be afraid to make up your own rules.

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    1. I love making my own rules. I think that's important. We all grow and develop in our own way.

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  14. These are great tips! I have a "Notes" file on my iPhone where I collect ideas when I'm out and about. Only problem is sometimes I forget to move them to my computer. Hopefully they'll be there when I need them!

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    1. I do the same :) Thank you for popping by, Stephanie.

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  15. I like your rules. I follow most of them though I've skipped a few writing days recently.

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    1. Skipping a few days is perfectly okay, Susan. We need that break at times.

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  16. Make sure you love it, because at first, you aren't doing it for the money!

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    1. Very true. Thank you for popping over.

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  17. rule 8 was a surprise, rule 10 the idea never struck me. great tips thanks for sharing

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    1. I don't claim to be a great photographer - I've only got my phone camera - but I love to capture unusual things that interest me and spark emotion.

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  18. I agree completely ... except for 1, 2 and 6 I don't do those.

    I write most days, have the laptop close to hand on my travels and set totally mad targets.

    I do 10 but not in the same way. I write annoying people and situations into stories and sort them out there. My mother-in-law is still annoying, but I've made some money out of that irritation!

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    1. :) I'm so lucky... my mother-in-law is great. That's a healthy approach to deal with annoying people, Patsy. Thanks so much for popping over.

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  19. I don't get bored with writing. I have to work too hard just to find the time to get a few minutes in here and there. Now if I lost my job and had all day to write, then I can see getting bored with it at times, but right now I don't have time for boredom.

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    1. I admit, I have written boring stories or a boring chapter and have had to rewrite. I was obviously not in the right frame of mind when writing them.

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  20. I don't carry a pen and paper everywhere, but I do type things on my phone so I don't lose ideas. I'm always taking pictures.

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    1. Thank you for popping over, Medeia.

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  21. These are really useful rules Nicola! I follow all from #2 to #10. I should possibly be focusing on daily writing!!

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    1. I write every day. Everything counts - emails,letters, blogging comments, posts, stories, chapters etc etc. I don't always write fiction each day and that's okay in my world. Have a lovely week, Archana and thank you for visiting.

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  22. Love these rules, Nicola, and try to follow most of them. I've recently decided to read even more than usual - maybe half an hour or so during the day as well as my usual before I go to bed/sleep. It reminded me how much I used to read in the past!

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    1. Reading is such a pleasure, isn't it? Wish you a lovely week, Rosemary. Thanks so much for your continued support. Means a lot!

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  23. Very good rules to follow!
    Good luck in chasing your own stars and dreams. I have every confidence that you'll reach them.

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  24. Hi Nicola: Thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience. I envision myself writing speculative Christian fiction which is the opposite of my writing experience. Throughout the past 30 years I have written in the academic and self-help style. My challenge is transitioning from thinking to actually writing. I know that several, if not all of the ‘ten rules’ you list will help. Thanks.

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    1. Thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts and experiences Mary. It is lovely to 'meet' you. I wish you a lovely week.

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  25. I agree with all you rules especially reading a lot, talking to other writers and trying out different writing styles. The rule I always follow (especially in my magazine stories) is 'write from the heart'.

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    1. That's a great tip, Wendy. Thank you for popping by :) Wishing you a lovely week.

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  26. My number one rule is to avoid reading what I've written until after the draft is done.

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  27. I love this list. Moving around during the day is essential. So is reading. Keep reading. :)

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