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Rules For Writers:

Do not wait upon the muse. Put your butt in the chair and your fingers on the keyboard and start writing. That girl will catch up with you eventually.

Get rid of Perfectionist Block. Give yourself permission to write crap. Everything ever written started out as crap and don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise. The good news is that you can fix crap. What you can’t fix, is a blank page.

Writer’s block is real and painful and anyone who says they have never suffered it is probably a man. A good way to find your way around writer’s block is to put three things at the top of the page when you sit down to write. Wants, Because, But. What your character wants, why she wants it, and what is standing in her way. Don’t think about the whole story when you do this. Only concern yourself with the scene you are about to write. Focus on the moment you are going to show the reader, answer those three questions, then put your fingers on the keyboard and let yourself write. You’re still finding your way into the scene but with those questions answered, you now have a map to help you see the way more clearly.

Read your work out loud. Every day, every scene. That’s the only way you can hear the rhythm of the language. Never forget that storytelling is an oral tradition. And if you stumble over the words as you’re reading, you’ll know you need to rework that section.

Read everything you can get your hands on. You can’t write if you don’t read.

If you write within a genre stop reading within that genre. Why? Because you’ll start to absorb every cliché and bad habit of the genre. Instead read books that you would never normally pick up. If you never read horror or fantasy or literary fiction now’s the time.

Join writing organizations and workshops. Writers dwell with people that don’t exist and things that never happened. By definition, we’re crazy and we need to be around people who get us. People who nod and agree and ask questions so we know we’re onto something great. There are enough of the other kind around, the kind who don’t understand why we do it, how we can justify so much time and energy if we’re not making money. So find writers who get you and keep them close. They make great friends.

Do a free fall writing exercise every day. Set a timer for ten minutes, put your fingers on the keyboard and start typing. Don’t stop, don’t correct and don’t think. Whatever is in your head is on the page. this is ridiculous, I don’t understand, I could be doing something else, and on and on and on until that timer goes off. This will force your inner editor to shut up, to stop shouting at you, making you doubt yourself and your ideas and anything else that can keep creativity at bay. With the editor silenced, slip into your story and start writing from where you left off the day before. Do not look at what you wrote the day before until you have something new on the page.

Protect your time and the work. Find the time of day that when you are most productive, most creative and guard it. Close the door, turn off email, facebook, text messages, phone, everything that can distract you. Make it clear to everyone around you that you’re not available during those hours because if you don’t respect the time, no one else will.

Listen to other writers tell their personal stories. Go to literary festivals, library events, bookclub events and when the writer asks, ‘are there any questions’ speak up because everyone’s writing experience is different. You’re bound to get a takeaway, something that resonates or is different, or confirms what you’ve heard or been thinking. But keep in mind that no one’s opinion is the end of the story because if you’re lucky, the next writer you listen to may blow that theory to shreds.


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