Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My 10 Writing Rules

Yesterday, Jan Morrison, author of the delightful Crazy Jane blog asked for my top ten writing rules. This post, therefore, goes under the caveat 'be careful what you ask for...'

1. Ask 'what if'. Let your imagination fly. See what and who shows up.

2. Don't pre-judge. You may think your 'what-if' is a short story - but it could be a novel. Or a play.

3. Eat cake. Eat chocolate. Eat chocolate cake.

4. Get outside and breath fresh air. Spending all day at your keyboard does not make you a better writer. It makes you stale.

5. Don't fence yourself in with set ideas about numbers of characters. You may very well need more. Or less. If you can meld two characters into one, the likelihood is you can meld more.

6. As you sit down to write, cursing and sweating, remember: This was a choice. No one held a gun to your head - you decided you wanted to do this.

7. Read voraciously. Read all types - you'll be amazed at what you can learn.

8. Be content with your own company - because that's what it's going to be a great deal of the time. If you always happier around other people, writing may not be the path for you.

9. Accept that not every word you're writing is brushed with genius. No one's is. Build a bridge and get over it.


10. Write what you would want to read.


  1. Wow. Excellent rules Elspeth! I especially can relate to #8, as editing mirrors writing in that regard.

  2. Excellent rules. I especially like the one involving chocolate.


    Crystal; I should think it would.

    Karen; Take everything with a large grain of salt. Find what works for you.

    Carol; Chocolate is never bad.

  4. This is one of the best lists I've seen Elspeth. Number ten might be my biggest challenge.. must work on #9.

  5. Put me down for a double serving of number 3.

  6. Deb; What a nice thing for you to say; thank you. My biggest hurdle is #6.

    Alan; You'll have to wait until I bake again, but I DO make excellent chocolate cake.

  7. Yay! Thanks Elspeth - it is every bit as enlightening and delightful as I knew it would be. Dontcha hate a smarty-pants? #6 is my mantra - in fact it is my mantra for everything I do in my life - it completely eliminates the whining I might fall prey to. And of course chocolate is VITAL. One I might add is 'have a flock of chickens for when you look out the window at them you will be amused and you will be inspired by their incessent industriousness (sp????).

  8. After #10, which I agree is MOST important, I loved #6 the most, lol.

    Marvin D Wilson

  9. Jan; Thank YOU for suggesting the post! I wish I had chickens; I find them absolutely delightful.

    Old Silly; I'm glad you liked them. They were fun to write.

  10. I'm going to do #4 as soon as it warms up.

  11. Great list! I love #6 - so true!

    Now, off to go get me some chocolate. Or cake. After all, it's a rule :)

  12. Patricia; Excellent. You don't want to go stale.

    Jemi; That's right. Canadians obey rules. It's just being polite.

  13. Excellent rules, Elspeth. Can't pick a favourite, because I connect with most of them.

  14. Thanks for the list Elspeth.
    Of course you realise that all us chocolate loving writers can now blame you for any increase in girth.
    My line will be "She made me eat it." :)


    Publish or Perish

  15. I love chocolate in any form. In fact, I'm going to eat some chocolate covered pretzels right now!

  16. Love these rules! Especially eating chocolate while I write what I want to read. :)

    Mystery Writing is Murder


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