Friday, 11 April 2014

Beware of Writer's Rules

Every few weeks I come across a fresh list of writer's rules published in a periodical or on the Internet. I always read them and then find I'm questioning what I do and how I do it, maybe not such a bad thing but definitely not good when I'm in the middle of writing a chapter.

However, there are other considerations and so I decided to pen my own rules with tongue in cheek.

1.  Moving ones butt - writing is bad for physical health and although I have heard of authors who stand up when writing it is always better to encourage endorphin production through some good old-fashioned regular exercise, plus it helps the thinking process.

2. Watch for a drinking problem - no I don't mean alcohol! Tea and coffee can become a vital part of the writing process and you'll know you have a problem when you are awash with caffeine or somebody asks you if you've been using shampoo with tea extract in it.

3. Try to look interested when a new acquaintance tells you that they always meant to write - becoming a writer means that suddenly everyone you know or meet has that "one novel" in them.

4. Be more self-aware - during conversations it is easy to stare into aimlessly into space whenever a new idea takes hold. It is also disconcerting when you are very attentive and suddenly start watching the other person's every move because they have something you can use.

5. You are expected to say something interesting - part of the territory.

6. Sleep - When you are on a roll, it is difficult to settle down and if you are not on a roll then your mind wanders.

7. Posture - slumped in your favourite comfy chair or over a laptop plays havoc with your back. Sit up and don't play balancing acts.

8. Wondering back to your favourite place - it's easy to say to yourself: "I can write without constraint when I sit here." Get out of your comfort zone.

9. Do word counts and chapter lengths really matter? Don't become OCD about them. Write and then pick up on them during rewrites.

10. Beware of writer's rules - If you want to write according to someone else's formula then join a class. Rules are there to be broken!