7 Rules For Writers


May 14, 2011 by David Gillaspie

Make It Shine

0.  Be Sure To Write.

Gentlemen,and ladies, start your keyboards. 

The time for National Novel Writing Month is ticking closer.  The website for NaNoWriMo shows the clock counting down the seconds to November 1, as if it’s Midnight Madness of NCAA basketball.

This is the fantasy league for novelists who draft themselves.

Whether you start on National Novel Writing Month, Regional Essay Writing Week, State Short Story Writing Day, or County Couplet Writing Hour, write.  Don’t wait for the important umbrella movements listed, just write. 

If you have any hesitation, call Larry Brooks.  He will deal with your confused bad-self.

1.  Read Something Useful.

Read what Berkeley suggests new students read for their introduction to campus intellectual life.

Read from a list of classics.  You’ll find something in there to steal, er, inspire you.

Make a list of your favorite books, what you’ve read or plan to read, and get started.  John Irving said he could turn to any page of a Tom Wolfe book and find problems with the writing.

Look for problems, then solve them in your own work.

2.  Turn The Page.

Should you be able to look on any page of any book and feel like you know where the story is?  Can each paragraph be a short story?

You know you’re in good hands when that happens.

No one expects a space creature in a book like Catcher In The Rye, but if they did invade Holden Caulfield‘s world, they’d look like Joyce Maynard.

Cheap shot?  Maybe.

3.  See A Writing Movie.

Then make something to eat.

4.  Pitch Your Work At A Writers’ Conference. 

You say you’re not into sales?  Understand this, if you write it and someone buys it, it’s not sales, it’s sharing.  Everyone likes the person who shares. 

Sharing can be a big thing.  When that happens, it costs money.  Someone has to pay for the Charlie Sheen Suite at the Plaza, and that’s the room you want because it’s new and you’re new in town.

If you pitch at a conference and your story ends with a song fading out, don’t sing it, especially if it’s Elvis singing It’s Now Or Never.  An agent doesn’t need more reasons to say no.

5.  Take A Class.

Yes, you’re an original voice. 

Yes, the world needs more original voices. 

Yes, you deserve to be heard.  But, unless you’ve been raised in a dog kennel deep in the backwoods of Idaho and emerged writing lyrical poetry from the early Italian Renaissance, you’ll need some guidance.

Take a story structure class.  They go by different names.  The best one I’ve attended is local.  The best I’ve seen is in Adaptation.

Build it right and they will read.

6.  Talk It Out.

Tell yourself you’re a writer after you’ve finished working a three-hour stretch.  Whether you’re unemployed and living in your mother’s basement, or Nicholas Sparks, you’re the same person; writers. 

You share the same goals as every writer in history: make sense in the context you present.  Remember, no sci-fi from Salinger. 

Repeat to yourself that you can write;  you’re a writer.  When you say it, it sounds like this: “I can write; I’m a writer.” 

If you say it over and over and think of the proof in pages that you’re indeed a writer, it feels like a mantra.  Besides, it’s easier to remember than ‘no me yo ho renge kyo.’

7.  Write seven 7 Steps-Rules-Aisles-Ways-Signs and list ’em.  Then get back to the writer’s chant, “I can write; I’m a writer.” 

Have a cup of tea, stay calm, and carry on.


4 thoughts on “7 Rules For Writers

  1. Webber says:

    Do cookbook authors have weight swings while they write? It makes sense. Write new book and gain weight trying out the goods. Losing that weight means it’s time for another cookbook.

    • deegeesbb says:

      Hmm, cookbook. It’s seems unfair to use one, but if you do use it the recipes would be well tested, right? Here’s my number: no cookbook writers with body fat under 12 percent.

  2. David Gillaspie says:

    I’m trying not to trade pounds for words, but ten pounds for fifty thousand words? Hmmmm.

    Do cookbook authors have weight swings while they write? It makes sense. Write new book and gain weight trying out the goods. Losing that weight means it’s time for another cookbook.

    That probably doesn’t work with murder/mystery writers.

  3. bovanity says:

    Good tips, DG! Especially the one about making something to eat. 🙂

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