6 RULES FOR WRITING

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Meantime, I’m trying to get some writing done. And that’s never easy. (Whenever I hear people describe how much they *love* sitting down to write or how easily writing comes to them, I always assume they’re lying or delusional.) But in times of struggle, it’s worth returning to first principles. Awhile back, The New Yorker’s digital edition asked me if I had any “rules” for writing. I do. I went back to look at them last week, and I'm sharing them below on the chance they’ll be helpful to all you non-lying, non-delusional types:

1. Show up. Get to work even when you don’t feel like writing—especially when you don’t feel like writing.

2. Write every day. Regaining momentum takes three times as much energy as sustaining momentum. (Look it up: It’s a law of literary physics.)

3. Don’t do anything else until you’ve written five hundred words. I mean it.

4. Move. Some of my best ideas come when I’m climbing the stairs of my house or running in my neighborhood.

5. Once you’ve produced a semi-credible draft of a section or chapter, have someone read it to you aloud. Hearing your words can help, even if it hurts. 

6. Remember that writing, though solitary, is also social. You’re making a promise to readers. Honor that promise.

 
 
3 BOOKS ON WRITING
Procrastinating writers love few things more than *reading* about writing. I urge you not to indulge this desire too much. But if you’re looking for books on writing that offer guidance and even a dose of inspiration, these three are good bets:
 
The best writing advice in the history of humankind came from Lamott’s father, who offered the following counsel to her 10-year-old brother as he struggled to write a book report about birds: “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”
 
Advice and butt-kicking for overcoming the nasty reality that the entire world is conspiring to prevent you from writing.
 
3. Daily Rituals: How Artists Work (Mason Currey)
How did Franz Kafka, Henri Matisse, Toni Morrison, Ben Franklin and more than 150 other amazing creators get stuff done? This book reveals who’s a lark, who’s a night owl, and who just needs a good stiff drink.