There is this show on television called NCIS and the lead character has a list of work rules which the other characters are ‘encouraged’ to learn and follow. It’s kind of a running gag, when they encounter some unexpected situation they would bring up one of the rules. I actually own a t-shirt with the rules.
Then I got to thinking, over the years I’ve compiled my own set of rules on writing and publishing; an amalgamation of other rules and personal experiences. Some are painfully obvious, others are open for interpretation and debate, but what the Hell, why not make my own T-shirt?
Then I thought it might be cheaper to write some weekly blog posts instead.
So, without further ado I present Mike’s Rules for Writing and Getting Published.
Rule 1. To be a writer you must actually write. Well…duh.
Ridiculously obvious, right? Top of the list advice from almost every published professional author.
So many times I’ve heard writing students absolutely amazed when instructors/mentors impart this piece of wisdom upon them. Oh, the glowing praise for said instructors. Incredibly, some even take credit for it.
So what does this all mean? Well, evidently some people must have thought writing was some kind of magical or psychic phenomena that happened through sheer force of will.
Or elves. Whatever. It doesn’t happen that way.
Writing is a discipline. It takes time. It requires sacrifice. There are only so many hours in the day and if you got a job or a young family, or you like to sleep, you’ll discover time to write is a precious commodity. While family and the need to pay rent might not be so forgiving, leisure time is, well, leisure time. You may need to trade off watching that TV show or going out with your friends for some quality time at the keyboard, or with pen and paper, or even dictation for those with that rare skill set. Write a sentence, then a paragraph, then a page. Just do it, and do it regularly. You might never be a published writer, but you will be a writer, but for that to happen you actually have to sit down and write.
And all those creative writing instructors out there, stop taking credit for the idea. You know who you are.