Monday, October 27, 2014

Seven Rules for Writing

In last week’s post I mentioned the workshops I attended, facilitated by novelist and poet Jeff Phelps. He mentioned a book by Natalie Goldberg, called Wild Mind (Living the Writer’s Life). In it, she recommends seven rules and, in light of all those writers who are preparing themselves for NaNoWriMo in a few days’ time, I thought I’d share them with you, because no matter what you’re writing, it’s all about getting some writing done, without analysing it. These are Natalie’ rules (with my comments in parentheses).

1) Keep your hand moving. (It doesn’t matter whether your hand is holding a pen, or bashing at a keyboard, don’t stop. As soon as you stop you’re allowing your brain to start analysing and thinking. There’s a time for that, and that’s later.)

2) Be specific. (Don’t generalise. Nail the adjectives and nouns. He drove a car? No. He drove a jet black 2 litre Audi A4.)

3) Lose control. (Say what you want, warts and all. Don't worry about be polite, political correctness, or whether Aunt Flo won’t like it. This is the first draft. Aunt Flo won’t even see it!)

4) Don’t think. (Don’t edit. Don’t re-read. Don’t consider. Just write.)

5) Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation or grammar. (Hooray! This is part of point 4 - not to think. Punctuate as your brain thinks of it, but don’t worry about getting it right. Get it writ, as they say.)

6) You are free to write the worst junk in America - or wherever you live. (No one, apart from you is going to see the first draft, so no one is going to judge.)

7) Go for the jugular. (If you find yourself writing towards a painful emotion - don’t shun it - go for it. Nothing is out of bounds. When you go for the jugular you’re writing the important stuff, which is where the power is.)

So, to everyone tackling this year’s NaNoWriMo, and to those who aren’t but are planning to get some writing done, consider Natalie’s rules and …

Good luck.