30 Tongue-in-Cheek Rules for New Writers

It’s a new year and many will have resolved to seize the dream of being a  writer. I’m here to help. Sort of.

If you follow this blog you’ll know how much I hate the BS about ‘rules for writers’.

In a pursuit that demands creativity and imagination, I believe imposing strict rules is ridiculous.

Of course we need to know things like grammar conventions so we don’t look like numpties, but a lot of the other stuff we can ignore.

Every new writer will inevitably scour the internet for writing tips. I did it. You probably did too. You may even be a newbie that’s stumbled across this post. If you are, the snark is strong with this one.

30 Tongue-in-Cheek Rules for Writers

1.Stephen King knows everything about writing. No-one else does. That is until they read King’s On Writing and then become experts themselves, telling you everything Stephen King dictates.

Tongue in Cheek Rules for New Writers - Stephen King2. If you don’t write every single freaking day for the rest of your life your writing ability disappears. The one day you decide to take off will result in all your creativity leeching out of your brain and your command of language to resort to gibberish. Never, ever take a day off.

3. You are called an ‘aspiring’ writer until you’ve actually published something. It does not matter that you’ve written, revised, and edited a whole novel. You’re still aspiring to be like the others who pressed the publish button.

4. You are not an author until you’ve published a novel. Even though an author is known as a creator of a work and the dictionary doesn’t state it needs to be published, this is writing law.

5. If you don’t mention your book on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram every five seconds it will never sell any copies.

6. When you direct message people the instant they follow you on Twitter, sending them a link to your book, they love it and don’t think you’re a douche canoe one little bit.

7. You must be a don in the English language to write. If you haven’t digested a style guide, you cannot write.

8. No one will ever metaphorically pat you on the head and patronise you for writing your first book. They also won’t ever tell you that the first book is always crap.

Tongue in Cheek Rules for New Writers - Writer's Block9. You will think all your ideas are the most original and innovative ever.

10. Every time you think of a title for your book, you will find, after an internet search, that sixty authors thought it was a great title too.

11. You will buy all the books on how to write well. You will figure out in time what is helpful and what’s not. You will despise yourself for buying all the books on writing that weren’t.

12. It will seem on social media that only four major, best-selling authors exist.

13. Everyone, his/her spouse, dog, and dentist wants to be a writer too.

14. Even though you work with your book every freaking moment of the day you still can’t coherently answer the question, ‘What is your book about?’

15. Those you thought would support you often don’t. Strangers often do.

16. No matter how many times some writers dictate writer’s block doesn’t exist, it does. They will try to say you’re lazy or not imaginative enough. You will feel more like crap after hearing that and the block becomes a mountain.

17. Chocolate and coffee make you a better writer. No sarcasm here, only the truth.

18. First drafts will seem hard-going. Then you begin revising them and wish you could go back to first draft bliss.

Tongue in Cheek Rules for New Writers - troll19. First drafts can be crap but don’t make them so crap that you hate your first draft self when you’re revising and editing.

20. You will want to sign up for every writing course, event, and festival going. Check your funds first. You’re a writer, remember.

21. Everyone will tell you that hardly anyone ever gets a publishing deal.

22. You will still try to get a publishing deal if that’s what you want.

23. You need a cat to write. Better still, train the cat to write for you.

24. Check the Facebook writing groups you join carefully. Some will be amazing and full of supportive writers. Many will be full of people who tout their book or blog post, trolls, or people who want you to marry them and get them out of Russia.

25. Google+ is a no man’s land. You plug away so you can go up in the Google rankings, sharing your blog posts, and the like, but you’ll hardly ever get any engagement. If you do, it’s likely to be from foreign men who have porn stars as their friends but think plain Jane you needs a good sorting out – true and regular story. Value the normal people who communicate with you there.

26. Writers’ blogs are a difficult territory. If you’re beginning one, be aware that you will fall into an awkward niche for blogging groups on social media. Bloggers are obsessed with niches. They like the more obvious ones like parenting and food. You’re an odd bod writer. Other writers may follow you. If you’ve been doing this gig for years and know your stuff, lots of writers will follow you. If you’re a snarky, quirky one like me, not so much. Not. Remotely. Bitter. At. All.

Tongue in Cheek Rules for New Writers - normal ship27. You will be scared to ask ‘stupid’ questions of other writers. Everyone in the group is worried they’re not setting out dialogue correctly. When the newbie dares to ask, the seasoned writers listen intently, silently thanking you for asking.

28. Writers often state that their characters ‘talk’ to them and they live in the minds of their characters. You’re not a lesser writer if you don’t hear voices in your head or visualise peeing with a todger when you don’t have the correct equipment.

29. It’s really exciting when you first become a writer. The excitement wears off when you’ve written a bit. Then it comes back again. Then it goes. Then it… to fade.

30. You’re not normal and that’s fine. Repeat after me, ‘One of us’.

Do you have any to add to the list?

Share away in the comments!

About Lisa Sell

Lisa Sell is a fiction writer and blogger. When not wrestling with words she can be found showing the love for chocolate, cheese, coffee, the cat, and the Husband. Not particularly in that order.

10 comments on “30 Tongue-in-Cheek Rules for New Writers

  1. Don’t forget that you’ll have the perfect dialogue worked out between your characters in the shower, or while trying to sleep, but as soon as you try to recreate it on paper, your brain turns to mush.

  2. Well done Lisa – you nailed it. The first draft #18 and the cat #23 were laugh out loud true.

  3. I came across a agency that admired (read: required) that you tried self publishing first, and need to know the amount you sold so far. If less than 5000/year, they were not interested

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