Tuesday 29 January 2013

The Only Writing Rules You'll Ever Need?

A friend of mine shared this with me last week. I thought that, overall, it had some good advice. I'm no expert on writing, and I don't write nearly as often as I should, so I felt I should explore these rules here, as they apply to my own experiences (or lack thereof):
  1. If you write every day, you get better at writing every day—This is something all good writers should be doing: we should read every day, and we should write every day. But most writers have day jobs as well (those who don't are either very lucky, or wish they did; it's practically impossible to make a living as a full-time writer, in my opinion). It can be difficult to find the time, but like any craft, practice makes perfect! For myself, I'm going to keep trying!
  2. If it's boring to you, it's boring to your reader—This one goes without saying. Write about things that excite you! Don't write simply for the sake of writing. Different people will have different tastes, so you'll never be able to please everybody. You will be able to please yourself, though!
  3. Get a writing routine, and stick with it—Wow, this is another one that I struggle with, and I'm sure you do, too! It does make sense, though. The way to develop any habit (good or bad) is to practice, practice, practice. If you decide that you're going to write every day at 16:00, then stick to it. It will eventually become habit, and you'll feel like something very important in your life is missing if you don't do it for a day.
  4. Poetry does NOT have to rhyme—I have to keep reminding myself of this, but it's true; any art form is an expression of one's true self. While you definitely need to be aware of things like spelling and grammar, you shouldn't feel constrained by rules. This is your passion, after all!
  5. Resist stereotypes, in real life and in your writing—I think that this can be the difference between a mediocre idea and a great idea. Not every dwarf speaks with a Scottish accent, not every pirate has an eye-patch or a peg-leg, and not every wizard wears a pointy hat. Be creative, be unique, be yourself! If your vampires sparkle, though, you're on your own! (Although seriously, why do you think the Twilight series is so popular?)
  6. Writers read. Writers read a lot. Writers read all the time—In my youth, I read a lot. But life happens, and I lost the habit. But over the past year, I think I've read more than I read in my whole life previously. I've read the classics, I've read modern tales. I've read fantasy, I've read horror. I've read drama, and I've read romance. Not only do I feel it's making me a better writer, it's making me a better human being, too!
  7. Make lists of your favourite words and books and places and things—This is definitely something I'm going to start doing! So often I run across an older or more obscure word in a book I'm reading, that I haven't heard in a while. I find myself thinking, "That's so cool. I must find a place to use that word!" But then I forget it. I'm going to start using those words in my day-to-day writing.
  8. There doesn't always have to be a moral to the story—Sometimes when you write, you write because you want to tell the world something. That's great, but sometimes I think we should all remember that a good story is just a good story.
  9. Always bring your notebook. Always bring a spare pen—Or your tablet PC. I also need to learn this. Inspiration can strike at any time. You won't remember later. Write it down!
  10. Go for walks. Dance. Pull weeds. Do the dishes. Write about it—This, I believe, is just an extension of rule number 1. Sometimes the reason why you don't write every day is because you've convinced yourself you don't know what to write about, or that what you have to write about is insignificant or irrelevant. Not everybody's going to read everything you write, but everything you write will help to make you a better writer.
  11. Don't settle on just one style. Try something new—Indeed. I think a fantasy writer would be amazed at what he can learn by stepping outside of his comfort zone and writing a thriller every once in a while!
  12. Learn to tell both sides of the story—My mother always told me that there were two sides to every argument. I think understanding this is an important life skill that all writers naturally have. Use it to your advantage!

I hope you've found my interpretation of the above rules useful to you. If you have, then I'd appreciate it if you'd go and check out my fantasy short story, A Petition to Magic. Just Google it—it's currently available on Smashwords, Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and others! After you've read it, let me know how well you think I've followed some of the rules above!

Oh, and if you're the person who put together the above poster, please let me know so that I can properly credit you.

Good luck in all your future writing endeavours!

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