Welcome to the first of a series of articles on The Only Thirteen Writing Rules You Need.

For several years, I have had a print out of an email attachment sent by a friend pinned on the board above my desk. Entitled The Only Thirteen Writing Rules You Need, it has motivated, harassed, and tortured me.

Over time, I have slowly worked my way down the list, attempting to follow at least some of the Thirteen Writing Rules. I have to say, that from a personal perspective, they have proven to be extremely helpful in both my professional and personal writing.

Rule 1: If you write every day, you will get better every day

Writing is about time and practice – spending time with words until one day, they start co-operating with your inner storyteller. Diaries, journals, letters, shopping lists, poetry, prose – it is all writing, and it is all practice. It does not matter what you write, as long as you sit down and write something on a daily basis

By the time that the late Bryce Courtenay (The Power of One; Jessica; The Potato Factory; Tommo & Hawk) became an “overnight success” at the age of fifty-five, he had been writing seriously every day for forty-four years.

Courtenay’s philosophy was “glue your bum to a chair… and never give up.”

He certainly practiced what he preached. When he died in November 2012, Bryce Courtenay had published twenty-three novels.

Alex Haley’s lifelong ambition was to be a writer. Despite having little natural talent, he was a great storyteller. He worked hard at writing daily, and read everything about the subject that he could get his hands on. More importantly, he never gave up.

Alex Haley went on to write countless articles for magazines, including Playboy. Today, Alex Haley is best remembered for the best-selling, Pulitzer Prize and (American) National Book Award winner, Roots.

Like Bryce Courtenay, Truman Capote began to write seriously at age eleven. He would write for three hours every day after school. His hard work and practice paid off. Before starting the first grade, Truman Capote had taught himself to read and write.

Capote_05
Truman Capote

From the age of five, he carried a dictionary and notepad. At age of ten, he began writing, submitting a short story Old Mister Busybody to a writing competition for children, sponsored by a local newspaper.

At seventeen, Capote began work at The New Yorker, and two years later, his stories began to be published in magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New Yorker.

As you can see, practice does pay off in the end.

Remember – If you write every day, you will get better every day.

In the next article, we will look at the second of The Only Thirteen Rules You Need – If it is boring to you, it is boring to your readers.


Copyright © 2017 Bronwyn Joy Hansen. All Rights Reserved.
Original Images Copyright © Bronwyn Joy Hansen. All Rights Reserved.
Image of Truman Capote 1959 by Roger Higgins (Public Domain)