Meme Post: 10 Rules for Writing

I am completely behind the curve on this.  Viable Paradise XVers have been posting 10 Rules for Writing since we returned from Martha’s Vineyard.  Since my brain is mush due to my current task at hand (all will be revealed later), I’ve thought of exactly six rules for myself, but maybe by the time I get to the end of this post, they’ll morph into ten rules. I’m sure there are many more than ten, but I’ll be lucky to remember even six this morning.

Please bear in mind, these are rules custom-crafted for one Fran Wilde, and that they are rules I am working hard to stick to – not something I am handing down as gospel. Because, seriously.  YMMV.

Rule the First:

No one owes you anything.   Not your friend who said, naively, that she’d love to read your stuff.  Not the slush readers.  Not the editors. Not the readers. These people love good writing and good reading.  On some lucky, blessed occasions, yours included.  When they do offer feedback, be grateful that they gave you some of their precious time. Look for places where you can do the same.

That said,

Rule the Second:

You don’t owe anyone anything.  If you are giving back, awesome.  If it is eating up the time you need to write, dial back.


Rule the Third:

You need to write.  Don’t let the lists of other things you need to do get you.  Don’t listen to the voice that says you’re being selfish.  You are a writer and this is what you do.  Go do it. Now.  Then do it some more.

Rule the Fourth:

Don’t give up.  Read this again. Especially the part that says:

  • “Success isn’t just a matter of talent. It’s a combination of desire, arrogance and a sense of “What the hell else am I supposed to do?” Every pro writer knows a better writer who started out at the same time but you’ve never heard of them. Why? Because they gave up when things got hard.”

Rule the Fifth:

Don’t look back. Have a sucky day?  Did your body bonk when you really needed to stay up that extra few hours to write? Excellent.  Keep going.

Rule the Sixth:

Revise.  That first draft is never as good as you think it is.  Even if it’s really, really good. Ask other people to read it.  Offer to read something for them in return.

Rule the Seventh:

Don’t be a jerk. Sometimes it’s tempting. It’s not productive. Balance your inner jerk with some outer goodness and no one (well almost no one) will be fooled, but you’ll still have added something better to the situation, rather than making it worse.

Rule the Eighth:


Rule the Ninth:

Submit.  If you don’t, you won’t get published.

Rule the Tenth:

Why are you still here? Go write.  



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