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Monday, August 30, 2010

5 Rules of the Writing Life

This weekend Henrik Edberg wrote a blog titled '16 Things I wish they had taught me in school.' The article resonated & I began to think about how the rules applied to the writing life. Here's what I came up with...

The Pareto Principle - Aka the 80/20 rule. If you've ever sat through any management classes, then you are familiar with how this applies to the business world. If a manager can get 20% of the work force to complete 80% of the work, then he/she can pray the other 80% drag up the rest. Not fair, but there it is.

The writing life doesn't really come with staff; certainly not in the beginning. Therefore, we have to captain this bit of the journey ourselves. So, only bring 20% of your anxiety to the table & you will realize 4 times the results. Or, it might be more beneficial to prioritize & leverage the amount of time you spend Blogging, Twittering and Facebooking versus writing time.

80 writing/20 platforming - works for me.

The Parkinson's Law - The space-time continuum speeds up to critical mass the closer we come to a deadline. Simply put - DO NOT over-think it. Plot issue, character problem, word choice debate - your first thought is usually the best thought. If you do not get it down on paper, you will not be able to fix it later - or not.

KISS - keep it simple silly.

Baking cookies - I have never met anyone who bakes only 1 cookie; they taste better in 6 or 12-packs anyway. It's the same for completing the monotonous tasks that divide our attention and distract us from the goal. Line those little arrows one after the other and hit all targets. Get it done quickly, succinctly & then move to the bulk of your day. Without the other tasks on your mind, you are clear to work your creative genius with a smile.

Dead chore ducks = more productivity bread.

The Give-Take Relationship of Value - You get more when you give more. This is true whether it's Twitter teammates, Blog buddies or Facebook friendlies. Do not treat any of these as your personal platform for self-promotion. The Aflac duck is only funny so many times before even pacifists consider a hunting license. Using these methods is good, beating people over the head - not so much.

Give more than you take & you will always be in abundance.

Fail & Make Mistakes - "Failure is not an option!" OH, but it is. The best lessons I have ever learned in writing & in life have been when I've failed & failed gloriously. It is those character building moments that we all know & love that teach that which is most necessary. It's not what happens, but how you deal with it.

Fail big, learn well & try to limit the audience.

That's all for now. Have a great week.

Happy Writing,



  1. What a great post! It's like the laws listed on The Big Bang Theory... but for writing.


  2. The funny thing about the "laws", they act like reality smacking up the side of the head. "Pay attention and get something done."

    Incidentally, I'm procrastinating now ... or is that social networking?

  3. Clarissa,
    Thanks so much. And I love The Big Bang Theory - the show & the science.
    Have a great writing day.

  4. Kay,
    You are so funny. Thanks for the giggles. Obviously I am also in the procrat zone or I wouldn't be responding so quickly.

  5. Nicely done. Succinct, clear, and very true. :-)


  6. Fickle,
    Thanks for stopping by & for the feedback which is greatly appreciated.

  7. I found your blog from Clarissa. Great post! I'm retweeted it right now.

  8. I also found you through Clarissa. I'm your friend now. I love the 5 things...I'll be stopping by again soon.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  9. Julie & NR,
    Thanks so much. Look forward to reading more on both of your blogs as well.