- When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else.
When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.
- Don’t romanticize your “vocation” . You can either write good sentences or you can’t. There is no “writer’s lifestyle”. All that matters is what you leave on the page.
- Avoid your weaknesses. But do this without telling yourself that the things you can’t do aren’t worth doing. Don’t mask self-doubt with contempt.
- Leave a decent space of time between writing something and editing it.
- Avoid cliques, gangs, groups. The presence of a crowd won’t make your writing any better than it is.
- Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet.
- Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.
- Don’t confuse honors with achievement.
- Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand — but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied.
- via Brain Pickings.
The Guardian of London, inspired by Elmore Leonard’s 10 rules for writing fiction, asked 28 other fiction writers, including Zadie Smith, for their own rules.
I spent 40 years in which I wrote nearly every working day, and got paid for it, and, in retirement, I still feel the urge to write. Hence this blog. But I doubt if I ever had the ability, and I am sure I never had the commitment, to be a Zadie Smith, Elmore Leonard, Kurt Vonnegut or Henry Miller.