Monday, July 26, 2010

Zadie Smith's Ten Rules for Writing Fiction

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.

To read the complete Guardian article, click here.

4 Comments:

Blogger Paul said...

Brilliant! Thanks for sharing those, Clare. Very appropriate, even for creative non-fiction authors. Isolating oneself is one of the hardest parts about writing, but often necessary to place oneself in that creative place. The tricky part is that while promoting a book requires many public appearances, writing involves being alone. So I expect that writers will someday have robotic doppelgangers to doing the signings, talks and online promotion, while they sit quietly in a room to write the books.

By the way, to me Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet still resonates as valuable advice for writers.

Tue Jul 27, 03:28:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

And thank you for the tip about Rilke's Letters. I'd not heard of that and ordering it now. I agree with you about the writer's dichotomy, too. I think most writers prefer their own company.

Tue Jul 27, 09:20:00 pm  
Blogger cromercrox said...

Tip no. 7. Definitely.

Fri Jul 30, 02:00:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Yes,Cromercrox - all computer ranges should include a special writers' model.

Fri Jul 30, 09:14:00 am  

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