These are from Margaret Atwood. I am so crazy about her work and her personality as I understand it, that, were I not married, I would run away with her if she asked me. The likelihood of that is, admittedly, very low. DV
Enough distractions. Here are Marvelous Margaret’s Rules for Writing:
1 Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils. Who else uses the word “aeroplane” these days? Reason enough to be crazy about this lady.
2 If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type. I’ll have to start carrying a file. And pencils.
3 Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do. Uh…I dunno about writing on my arm with a pencil. Ouch. I can get a lot on a 3″ x 5″ card.
4 If you’re using a computer, always safeguard new text with a memory stick. I had a hard disk fail last year. Fortunately I had most everything backed up on the cloud. A memory stick or two is just prudent.
5 Do back exercises. Pain is distracting. I have a series of yoga exercises I do for my back twice a day. Also a nice period of meditation at the same time. Ommmmm…
6 Hold the reader’s attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don’t know who the reader is, so it’s like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What fascinates A will bore the pants off B. Yeah, sometimes I write something that bores me stiff. That’s what the “delete” key is for.
7 You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but essentially you’re on your own. Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine. There’s no whining in writing. There is crying, however.
8 You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a romantic relationship, unless you want to break up. Yep, you know where all the bodies are buried. So your mystery is not a mystery to you.
9 Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page. Always possible to change everything. Throw it all out and start over again. It’s your choice.
10 Prayer might work. Or reading something else. Or a constant visualisation of the holy grail that is the finished, published version of your resplendent book. I keep thinking of the Grail Light in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Whatever works for you. I visualize Meryl Streep as the female lead in the film version of my novel.