Last fall in my fiction class we looked over the rules of several famous and successful writers in this Guardian article and came up with our own list of rules. Mine is below:
- Write for one hour a day. Minimum.
- Try not to make the story predictable. Surprise yourself.
- Create an ending where people say WTF!
- Write about something you know nothing.
- Read the books friends suggest. Don’t just say you will.
- Embody the dialogue. Make it authentic. Make it zip.
- Write things that are beyond your reach.
- Fail as a writer.
- Accept this and rewrite the goddamn thing.
- Value your classmates and your teacher.
Overall, I stuck to these rules quite rigorously and was able to write some strange and powerful fiction–different from my usual fare. During the semester we were not able to tell anybody our rules or mention that we had a covenant with the rest of the class. This, in hindsight, added a layers of secrecy and mystery to the proceedings, and, in some way, drew the class closer together.
So, now, I’m asking: what are your ten rules?