Ten Commandments for Writers (to Ignore)
1. Thou shalt write every day, according to a strict schedule, at the exact same time, and in the exact same place.
Oh please. I have a life. It’s great to set aside time to write, but other stuff has to get done, too. Don’t be so glued to a schedule, there’s no room for spontaneous fun.
2.Thou shalt master one genre and stick to it forever.
Why? Maybe this one genre isn’t really for you. Maybe you’re better at something else. Maybe you’d be happier writing something else. Maybe you simply like more than one genre. Of course, if you’re a Baptist minister who wants to try a hand at male-on-male erotica…well, that’s what pen names are for.
3.Thou shalt stick to one age group and never try to write for another.
Again, why? Go ahead. I will applaud your endeavors and there is no such thing as the writing police to haul you away to literary prison.
4.Thou shalt write what you know.
I don’t know anything, but I do know how to use a web browser. It’s called research. If it’s done well, the book reads correctly and people think you’re much smarter than you are. (A definite plus in life.)
5.Thou shalt neglect other parts of your life.
Sheesh. Do you really want to spend years alone, huddled in an unheated attic, eventually succumbing to an upper respiratory disease because no one bothered to look in on you? Not me.
6.Thou shalt suffer for your art.
I don’t suffer for anything. All writers hit a roadblock once in a while. We write through it or put the project away and come back later. If every word is a constant agony, don’t write. Yeah, you heard me. This is not failure. This is life. Sometimes plans work, sometimes they don’t, but life is always too short to be miserable. Find what makes you happy. Of course, if being miserable makes you happy, keep plugging away at that unfinished novel.
7. Thou must edit, edit, and edit again.
Editing is important, but there comes a time when looking at that manuscript makes your stomach heave. Then it’s time to give it to someone else to read. Unless penning a journal, what good is writing if no one ever reads it? Get it out there. Get critical feedback. Excessive self-editing is useless, but editing with a purpose, knowing where to cut, and what needs to be clarified is essential.
8. Thou shalt read all you can in your genre and ignore everything else.
Nope. Every once in a while, read something in another genre, one you ordinarily wouldn’t pick. There’s plenty of good stuff out there and choosing something different may jumpstart braincells and give unexpected inspiration.
9. Thou shalt travel for inspiration
If you can travel, terrific. If not, one word. Internet. I can’t afford to go globetrotting. Heck, in this day of Covid, I’d be happy to sit at the corner bistro again without feeling as if I’m surrounded by a curtain of germs. Until that time, the internet is loaded with pictures, maps, and excellent travel writing, both current and historical.
10. Thou shalt not have a prologue or epilogue
Why not? Prologues and epilogues can be fun ways add a little extra detail to a story without interrupting the flow. The key word is little. Prologue and epilogues should be short. If not, stop kidding yourself. They’re chapters.
There you have it. Ten pearls of wisdom. Use them or lose them without guilt.
L. A. Kelley writes fantasy and scify adventures with humor, romance, and a touch of sass. She breaks rules just because she can.