For today's check in, I thought it might be fun to look at what motivates your writing, what keeps you going, and what helps you out when you run into problems. I was inspired by this article, Ten Rules for Writing Fiction, in the Guardian. The article asked a number of British, Irish, and Canadian writers for their ten rules for writing fiction.
Here are a few of my favourite responses:
In the planning stage of a book, don't plan the ending. It has to be earned by all that will go before it.
Respect the way characters may change once they've got 50 pages of life in them. Revisit your plan at this stage and see whether certain things have to be altered to take account of these changes.
You don't always have to go so far as to murder your darlings – those turns of phrase or images of which you felt extra proud when they appeared on the page – but go back and look at them with a very beady eye.
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.
Do change your mind. Good ideas are often murdered by better ones. I was working on a novel about a band called the Partitions. Then I decided to call them the Commitments.
Reread, rewrite, reread, rewrite. If it still doesn't work, throw it away. It's a nice feeling, and you don't want to be cluttered with the corpses of poems and stories which have everything in them except the life they need.
Description is hard. Remember that all description is an opinion about the world. Find a place to stand.
Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die.
Leave a decent space of time between writing something and editing it.
Never stop when you are stuck. You may not be able to solve the problem, but turn aside and write something else. Do not stop altogether.
Think with your senses as well as your brain.
Think big and stay particular.
Get on with it.
My one personal rule for writing is this: If a scene isn't working, it's probably the wrong scene.
So what about you? What's the rule or guideline or suggestion you always try to follow when you're writing? Or are you the sort who doesn't believe in rules?
And how are you all doing so far? Confident that it's all going to come together? Panicking because none of it's coming together? It's time to share your triumphs and commiserate over those little bumps in the road.