Thursday, August 23, 2012

Three Rules for Writing

Plus One to Grow on
by Jackie King

Rule 1: Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated. Books are written one word at a time, one sentence at a time, and one paragraph at a time. Each day remind yourself that all you have to do is write one sentence, and then one more, and then one more…

Rule 2: Give yourself permission to write a bad first draft. This removes the fear of failure. You can’t fail because it’s okay to write sucky pages. What’s hard is putting your heart on paper. Don’t listen to your internal monitor that says, “You can’t even spell.” (Like that makes any difference? Many successful writers can’t. That’s why God made dictionaries.)

Rule 3: Write every day. Determine to write even in chaos or tragedy, because life is seldom perfect. No matter how busy you are, you have a right to some time of your own; learn to recognize and grasp these moments. Keep either index cards or a notebook close at all times. (I prefer index cards and always carry some in my purse, pocket and car.

Modern men and women spend a huge amount of time standing in lines, waiting at the doctor’s office, or the dentist or hairdresser, or for a child at private lessons or activities. Apprehend these moments to make character sketches, brainstorm writing ideas, or write a scene or part of a scene. It’s possible to write a scene in 20 minutes. I know one author who wrote her second book waiting at the airport for her next plane.

Get a large collapsible file to keep all of your notes, character sketches, newspaper clippings, etc., together. Writing time shouldn’t be wasted searching for lost notes. Keep that file somewhere handy and drop each scrap of paper or index card into it.

Writing a book doesn’t always happen in an organized way. Writers are creative folk and there are different ways to begin. Many things can trigger a germ of an idea from which a novel can develop: an overheard snatch of conversation; a newspaper or magazine article; a scene flashing through your mind unexpectedly.

Trust yourself and follow your intuition while you’re writing. This brings out that precious quality called “voice.”

Discipline is primary.

Talent is secondary.

Luck is nice, but a lack of luck can be overcome by persistence.

Use your experiences plus your imagination.

Oh, and, that most important Rule to Grow On:




Nancy Lauzon said...

Jackie, great post! I especially like the 2nd one. I ONLY write lousy first drafts. I turn off my internal editor and write my hiney off. It's the only way I can finish =)

Marilyn said...

Very good advice, Jackie.

I like your statement that we have a right to time of our own. I think that might be one of the hardest things, for women especially, to grasp. It seems like we're born with a million demands on our time, and we're not taught to put ourselves first just once a day.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Good advice, Jackie, and I agree with Marilyn that women of a certain age were always taught to place others first, leaving little time for themselves. An hour or two a day should be set aside for leisure and creative pursuits.

Earl Staggs said...

Great stuff, Jackie. Every writer should keep these basic gems handy as daily reminders.