There are lots of rules for writing, just as there are lots of writers and ways of writing. This is what works for me.
- Write what’s driving you right now. Cut through the fakery of subjects you’re only peripherally interested in. The key to it is self-knowledge, being healthy (i.e. on the right path in your own life), and knowing what’s really moving you and all your senses. Don’t write what’s cool to you at the moment – ephemera can’t sustain the task; neither can the future; write what you can’t live without today; write what’s changing your life right now.
- Do it piecemeal. Keep lists of subject headings. Blog some paragraphs and start organizing them. But don’t set out to write the great tome or novel start to finish.
- Never be anywhere without a pen or a keyboard. If you can’t write down an idea while you’re driving, pull over.
- Write with encouragement. Not a writer’s group – that can kill your momentum, distract your passion, and substitute for the work. Not “feedback” – that’s for after it’s written. Encouragement. Forget criticism until you’re done. Show it to audiences you expect to cheer you on or, if they can’t, will at least be silent.
- Avoidance behavior doesn’t mean you’re writing the wrong thing. It means you’re writing the wrong thing right now. If it doesn’t make you want to do it right now, either you’re not alive, or the idea isn’t; switch to what grabs you now and makes you want to write about it. If nothing does, get a life, because it’s out of life that we write.
- One cardinal rule: Writing is work. Not as in “relationships take work”. Writing is work, meaning it’s the work of your life. Or if it’s not, don’t do it; find the work of your life and do that. Maybe that work will require writing, but then you’ll have the gut for it.
- Don’t start a writer’s web site about the writing life. If you want to keep track of the things you learn, blog it and move on, but remember, above all, writing is work. It’s not fun, per se. People will get upset at this, but they’re not writers – they’re would be writers. Ignore them, buckle down, and work. If work is not a joy to you, you’ve got other problems.