A few weeks ago, the Guardian published several writers’ “rules for writers”. A few stood out as being of some interest:
Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
Have more than one idea on the go at any one time. If it’s a choice between writing a book and doing nothing I will always choose the latter. It’s only if I have an idea for two books that I choose one rather than the other. I always have to feel that I’m bunking off from something.
Do it every day. Make a habit of putting your observations into words and gradually this will become instinct. This is the most important rule of all and, naturally, I don’t follow it.
It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.
Cut out the metaphors and similes.
The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.
Style is the art of getting yourself out of the way, not putting yourself in it.
Jokes are like hands and feet for a painter. They may not be what you want to end up doing but you have to master them in the meanwhile.
… Open a gap for [your words], create a space. Be patient.
Stop reading fiction – it’s all lies anyway, and it doesn’t have anything to tell you that you don’t know already (assuming, that is, that you’ve read a great deal of fiction in the past; if you haven’t you have no business whatsoever being a writer of fiction).
You know that sickening feeling of inadequacy and over-exposure when you look upon your own empurpled prose? Relax into the awareness that this ghastly sensation will never, ever leave you, no matter how successful and publicly lauded you become. It is intrinsic to the real business of writing and should be cherished.
Never begin the book when you feel you want to begin it, but hold off a while longer.
… Novels are for readers, and writing them means the crafty, patient, selfless construction of effects….
… everyone is the hero of their own particular story….