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.


Blogger Paul Halpern 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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