5 rules for writers
These five rules for writers may seem simple, however, in order for writers to master them it will take a lot effort, fortitude, and discipline.
Make time to write
A simple search on the Internet on “how to make time to write,” results in an abundance of ideas on ways to do this. The majority of it is great advice for writers who face time challenges. For example, Joanna Penn has a recent article1 on her website and on her YouTube2 channel about this very subject.
In her article Joanna asks’ “What are you going to give up in order to make time to write?” It’s a fact, that writer’s make sacrifices in their day-to-day schedule to write. They choose to convert time spent watching TV, golfing, commuting, sleeping, socializing, web surfing, and other activities into writing time. However, the real key is not only to make the time to write, but also to make that time productive. Mastery of this first rule means finding the time to write; and then staying at it until the post, article, book, poem, or short story is ready to send into the hands of the reader.
Engage your readers
Engage your readers is one rule that many writers avoid. They avoid it either because they are afraid of being in the public eye, or because they’re unsure how to go about engaging their audience. Some writers avoid it for both reasons. Mastery of this rule requires a writer to overcome the resistance they experience whenever they think about engaging with their readers.
Elisha Goldstein, author of Uncovering Happiness3, says resistance “is a deeply ingrained wiring that we all have to move away from what the brain anticipates to be uncomfortable and stay with what’s comfortable.” Our brains tell us to stay in our comfort zone! This is why writers often resist putting themselves out there for their readers… it’s easier to stay where it’s comfortable.
Writers can also experience resistance when having to learn new things. For example, how to implement their author’s platform. Sometimes writers just want to write and leave everything else to the “professionals.” That’s fine if the money is there to hire them. When it’s not, then it is up to the writer to learn the skills to create a website, post a blog article, buy a domain, and more. Again, the brain says it’s too uncomfortable; stay where you are.
Discomfort is the root of resistance. To overcome; a writer’s daily mantra just might need to be, “Do the uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable.” It helps to recognize that as a writer, growth will never happen while remaining comfortable.
So, even though it’s uncomfortable; creating an author’s platform, doing live videos, having a Facebook page, and other activities that engage the reader is an absolute must for any writer. That means pushing through and just doing it.
Work through rejection
Few things are as hard as overcoming rejection. Some experts say that the pain of being rejected feels the same as physical pain. It rattles a person’s sense of certainty. For writers, the main source of rejection comes from publishers and agents saying their manuscript wasn’t accepted. There is no question this is a painful part of being a writer. It can make anyone question whether they are cut out to be a writer or whether it’s worth all the effort.
It takes fortitude to work through that kind of rejection. Why? Because fortitude gives the writer the mental and emotional strength to face rejection. It gives the writer the ability to move past the pain and do whatever it takes to succeed; to keep going no matter what. Fortitude is the bravery or courage to go back to work, discover how to do things better, and try over and over again.
This rule typically isn’t hard to master, or is it? Remember the first rule? Writers are already making sacrifices to find the time to write… now they have to find time to read too? The answer is yes; and it’s done the exact same way. Sacrifice.
Mastering this rule is about making a commitment to the craft of writing. Reading deepens a writer’s creativity, imagination, vocabulary, and thinking. It also expands the understanding of sentence structure, grammar, and other mechanics of writing. Hence, reading helps develop the writer’s knowledge of their craft. Speaking of knowing the craft, one book we highly recommend is Janice Hardy’s “Understanding Show, Don’t Tell.” It is one of the best on this topic and a must have for every writer’s library.
It has been proven over and over that when a writer reads they learn what works and doesn’t work. They learn genre conventions and how to employ them in their own writing. Reading is as much the practice of writing as is the act of writing itself. (Well, almost.) Nevertheless, it is critical that a writer reads.
Then Keep on writing
Mastery of this rule is simple. Master the other four and then repeat. It makes sense. Writer’s find the time to write and make that time productive. They overcome the resistance; doing the uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable. They move beyond the pain of rejection with fortitude, and they read as much as they can. Then they keep on writing.
Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time4, gives this tip for aspiring writers. “Just write a little bit every day. Even if it’s for only half an hour-write, write, write.”
This is where the discipline comes in. Even if it is for a short amount of time; writers need to write everyday. It’s that simple! (Well, that is as long as one has mastered the 5 rules for writers it is.)
Keep writing to “THE END”
- Penn, Joanna, “How do you find time to write” The Creative Penn, Joanna Penn, 28 March 2018, https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2018/03/28/how-do-you-find-time-to-write/
- Penn, Joanna, “How Do You Find Time To Write?” The Creative Penn, Joanna Penn, 20 February 2018, https://youtu.be/313z3EPxR-M
- Goldstein, Elisha, “Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, Atria Books, 27 January 2015
- L’Engle, Madeleine, “A Wrinkle in Time” Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), 13 August 2013