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Rules for Writers

A dark and rainy day – paradise for a writer, no temptation to go outside. I went to visit old friends this morning, came home at 1, sat in my chair and worked. It’s now 10. My bum hurts. But I read this draft and am satisfied enough to go forward. It is coming together. I’ve said this before, in fact, more times than I care to remember. This time, it actually is. I know it.

But this aching bum makes for a boring blogger. Yesterday, I went across town to help out – the baby still had a viral fever and his mother had cabin fever. So I took over while she had a sleep. Even sick, his energy level is phenomenal. When he’s finished with his bottle, he hurls it across the room. Bored with his book or a toy, he throws with extreme force, and if it hits you, it hurts. The Blue Jays had better get ready for a fine pitcher.

Wednesday, the best class so far at Ryerson, truly thrilling, to feel them opening up, the stories ringing hard and true. Perhaps you don’t know that I love my work. But I do.

Speaking of which – my student and friend Chris sent me a link to a great website for writers: Below is a post on that site. I agree with every rule – though I don’t follow them all, especially the one about the internet … And here’s an article by famous writers on rejection. Painful but true.
Zadie Smith’s Rules for Writers

10 June 2013 — 5 Comments
Zadie Smith's Rules for Writers
1. When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else.
2. When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.
3. Don’t romanticise your “vocation”. You can either write good sentences or you can’t. There is no “writer’s lifestyle”. All that matters is what you leave on the page.
4. Avoid your weaknesses. But do this without telling yourself that the things you can’t do aren’t worth doing. Don’t mask self-doubt with contempt.
5. Leave a decent space of time between writing something and editing it.
6. Avoid cliques, gangs, groups. The presence of a crowd won’t make your writing any better than it is.
7. Work on a computer that is disconnected from the ­internet.
8. Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.
9. Don’t confuse honours with achievement.
10. Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand – but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never ­being satisfied.
Zadie Smith was one of a number of high-profile writers asked by The Guardian in 2010 for their best tips for writing fiction. The series was inspired by Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing. Read more writing tips from Jonathan Franzen, Hilary Mantel and Margaret Atwood.
About Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith was born in Northwest London in 1975 and continues to live in the area. She is the author of White TeethThe Autograph ManOn BeautyChanging My Mind: Essays and, most recently, NW which was published in September 2012. Follow Zadie Smith on Facebook.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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