Rules for Writers

Everyone is linking to this Guardian article collecting advice from fiction writers. My favorite list comes from Richard Ford — not that I necessarily agree with every rule:

1 Marry somebody you love and who thinks you being a writer’s a good idea.

2 Don’t have children.

3 Don’t read your reviews.

4 Don’t write reviews. (Your judgment’s always tainted.)

5 Don’t have arguments with your wife in the morning, or late at night.

6 Don’t drink and write at the same time.

7 Don’t write letters to the editor. (No one cares.)

8 Don’t wish ill on your colleagues.

9 Try to think of others’ good luck as encouragement to yourself.

10 Don’t take any shit if you can ­possibly help it.

There’s an entire blog devoted to listing the daily routines of writers. It’s a funny business — the people who do it can’t imagine doing anything else, but they still rely on all sorts of gimmicks to keep their work flowing smoothly. Maybe that’s part of the difference between styling one’s self as a writer and actually writing.

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11 Responses to Rules for Writers

  1. Phil Plait says:

    I’d leave a comment here about this, but I’m too busy.

  2. Peter Morgan says:

    As a counterpoint to this, try Kyle Cassidy’s “Where I Write: Fantasy and Science Fiction Authors in their creative spaces”, at http://www.whereiwrite.org/. Some great photographs of some greats. Or one can go through the photog’s own website, http://www.kylecassidy.com/, for some rather different.

  3. Lonely flower says:

    “Don’t have children”
    LOL

  4. locke says:

    I suspects that none of those lists are meant to apply to those whose writing doesn’t occupy most of their time, and that certainly includes every blog writer I know of that’s not a published novelist. Nor does it apply to those scientists I know who have written textbooks or the occasional general science book: none of those that I know consider writing their full time job (for one, the general science book authors would certainly starve if it WAS their full time job, though that’s demonstrably NOT true for a lot of my intro textbook writing friends, who actually do better financially than the great majority of novelists.)

  5. Mary says:

    I think I may be doomed if I can’t drink COFFEE and write at the same time. Getting anything written with 2 small children and a spouse running around (home) and working 30 hours a week (NHS) means I am chronically tired and writing at odd hours. I do like 8, 9, and 10.

  6. steeleweed says:

    1 Marry somebody you love and who thinks you being whatever you are is a good idea.
    2 Don’t have children unless you have an equal number of pets.
    3 Don’t read your annual reviews – your boss’s judgment is always tainted.
    4 Don’t write reviews – just spout opinions.
    5 Don’t have arguments with your wife in the morning, or late at night or mid-day.
    6 Don’t drink and write at the same time – you might spill your drink.
    7 Don’t write letters. (No one cares except your 95-year-old aunt.)
    8 Don’t wish ill on your colleagues. Do ill.
    9 Try to think of others’ good luck as a fluke.
    10 Don’t take any shit from anyone.

  7. Bill says:

    thanks for the Kyle Cassidy link – somehow I doubt that the
    Haldeman is for real 🙂

  8. Scratched Record says:

    2 Donu2019t have children.

    Which suggests that literary talent is not hereditary, otherwise there would be no talented writes by now… Oh! Wait a minute! Maybe it ishereditary after all…

  9. Mary says:

    11. Don’t watch the Winter Olympics when curling is on, even when procrastinating about writing. You will feel guilty and bored.

  10. What is all this about not reading the Annual Reviews?
    My view is try not to pay for them.

  11. Carrie says:

    Dont forget to put FTC disclaimer if you do write review..:)