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Continuing the Rules for Writing

Posted by on June 18, 2013

Having ended my last blog[i] on Elif Shafak’s the fifth rule that encourages us writers not to be worried by creeping depression – its just one of those ‘things’ – I thought spirits needed to be lifted.

Rule 10 states there is no such thing as writer’s block.   If you ever run out of inspiration take a break.   Being of Turkish origin Shafak suggests going to Istanbul to spend a few days in the chaos of the city.  With the current demonstrations and unrest there it was probably not a good idea.  But she is right that to take your self somewhere different, “observing, listening, feeding the seagulls feeling shrunken and expanded” is a reviving experience.   A change is as good as a rest.

Back to Rule 6; have no mercy on yourself.  Cut. Destroy. Revise.  But not so much Shafak writes, that you are merciless on your characters in Rule 7.   Our job, as writers, is not judging them but to help the reader understand and empathise with them.  They can judge your characters.

If – well I should say when you have lunch with your agent or publisher NEVER talk about your current writing project.  Rule 8 advises ‘take a sip of wine and utter a few words, muffled enough not to give any clues but interesting enough to arouse their curiosity without disturbing the mystical forces of the universe’.   I am not sure I completely confident about this move – but I will think of something and practice in front of the mirror just in case.

Rule 9 encourages us to forget the readers, the critics – in fact forget everyone – returning to the sentiment of solitude in Rule 1, forget there is a world outside.   Your life is your characters’ lives and their world.

There is one more rule – the last, but I will post that next time on 27th June.


Nicola Stevens

[i] Rules for Writing on 4th June –

One Response to Continuing the Rules for Writing

  1. Clare Travers

    I am already looking forward to the last rule due on 27th! This made for fascinating reading. Interesting about Istanblu – thirty years ago they had similar and then had a coup, which was usual for Turkey then: there was a coup at least once in a decade. Where to now? It seems a far cry from Ataturk’s vision of a separation between state and religion. Back to the rules – I have had a break where I was so busy looking after parent and friend that I thought nothing about writing at all. Lovely swimming though…

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