Writing Roolz

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Are you a pantser or a planner?

When it comes to writing – actually, I’m the same with most things, truth be told – I do love to plan. There is nothing like a route map showing me “You Are Here” and detailing the route I should take to get to “The End”. I’m not anal about it, no siree. I am quite happy to meander from my carefully considered and documented path if it seems appropriate to do so. But to begin the journey without a map, compass and bar of chocolate (hey, I remember the survival tips from Duke of Ed at school, you know) seems like idiocy of the highest order.

Yet, I know many of you reading this will shrink back in horror at the thought of planning your novel. Zounds, there will be a number who don’t even know how their story will end. And while that sends me to my Dairy Milk bar, you won’t be able to work any other way.

Yet if you read some of the many ‘How To Write’ books out there you might be forgiven for thinking that only one way is right. That’s the trouble with writing ‘rules’ – they try to standardise an approach, to apply the logistics of engineering to an art.

I read more as many How To books as the next person and the more I read them, the less convinced I am that I should. It won’t stop me; I always look for the magic bullet that will help me sit on my ample backside and get on with it, but I do read them more now with one eyebrow raised.

To add my twopence worth to the debate, I have come up with a few rules of my own.

  1. On no account finish one project before starting another. It’s far better to write something fresh. After all, it’s going to be so much better than the last story idea, isn’t it?
  2. Never begin work on your WIP until you have checked your emails. And facebook. And twitter. And catch up on the TV using iPlayer. Get your priorities straight.
  3. Likewise, take lots of breaks. It doesn’t matter if you are in the middle of an exciting part of the story, coffee and tea don’t make themselves. And while you’re having that cuppa you might as well switch on the TV. There’s a great film on Channel 4.
  4. Ignore everyone who tells you the chores can wait and that your writing comes first. What kind of dedication is that? If you do the ironing, wash the dishes, dust, vacuum, and polish the brasses first, think how much better you’ll feel when you start writing?
  5. Always, but always send off your first draft as soon as you’re finished. You want those nice publishers to get it while it’s fresh, don’t you?
Well, these are my rules. Stick with them and you too can be as successful as me.
On the other hand,you could just apply your backside to the chair and get writing.
Where are you with writing rules?

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16 Comments

  1. Jo Carroll
    Nov 10, 2011

    Great rules, these.

    Mine include – never pass an opportunity to play with the grandchildren . . . (Maybe I should find a way of scribbling while behind a tree playing hide and seek?)

  2. Jo Carroll
    Nov 10, 2011

    Great rules, these.

    Mine include – never pass an opportunity to play with the grandchildren . . . (Maybe I should find a way of scribbling while behind a tree playing hide and seek?)

  3. Jackie Aitchison
    Nov 10, 2011

    I love your dedication and your prioritie, all makes perfect sense to me!!

  4. Jackie Aitchison
    Nov 10, 2011

    I love your dedication and your prioritie, all makes perfect sense to me!!

  5. Martha
    Nov 10, 2011

    Never write on an empty stomach. It will only give you gas.

  6. Martha
    Nov 10, 2011

    Never write on an empty stomach. It will only give you gas.

  7. Emma Pass
    Nov 10, 2011

    Hmm. These sound like MY writing rules. Apart from sending off my first drafts – the only person I inflict those upon is my husband!

    I need to add one more, though: The dog needs attention too. Ear rubs. Cuddles. Playtime. WALKS. Or why not just go and sit outside in the sun with him? You won’t get a your RDA of vitamin D off the computer screen, you know!

  8. Emma Pass
    Nov 10, 2011

    Hmm. These sound like MY writing rules. Apart from sending off my first drafts – the only person I inflict those upon is my husband!

    I need to add one more, though: The dog needs attention too. Ear rubs. Cuddles. Playtime. WALKS. Or why not just go and sit outside in the sun with him? You won’t get a your RDA of vitamin D off the computer screen, you know!

  9. Martin Day
    Nov 11, 2011

    Thanks Nettie, for a healthy dose of reality – I wonder how anything ever gets done (and understand how so little does)

  10. Martin Day
    Nov 11, 2011

    Thanks Nettie, for a healthy dose of reality – I wonder how anything ever gets done (and understand how so little does)

  11. Emma Pass
    Nov 17, 2011

    Hi Nettie,

    My blog was presented with the Liebster Blog Award yesterday, and I’d like to award it to you too! 🙂 You can read about it on my blog (emmapass.blogspot.com) and collect it by dowloading a copy of the picture at the bottom of the sidebar.

  12. Emma Pass
    Nov 17, 2011

    Hi Nettie,

    My blog was presented with the Liebster Blog Award yesterday, and I’d like to award it to you too! 🙂 You can read about it on my blog (emmapass.blogspot.com) and collect it by dowloading a copy of the picture at the bottom of the sidebar.

  13. Abi Burlingham
    Nov 19, 2011

    These are my kind of rules Nettie. How on earth is a writer to write with out the distractions of chocoate and twitter? We’d all be incredibly sad and then where would we be? In the past I haven’t been much of a planner – as you said, it only ends in disaster. I now plan my writing a lot more – it still may end up as a disaster, but at least it’s an organised disaster!

  14. Abi Burlingham
    Nov 19, 2011

    These are my kind of rules Nettie. How on earth is a writer to write with out the distractions of chocoate and twitter? We’d all be incredibly sad and then where would we be? In the past I haven’t been much of a planner – as you said, it only ends in disaster. I now plan my writing a lot more – it still may end up as a disaster, but at least it’s an organised disaster!

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