It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that there’s a constant hum of writing conversation between Lani and I. Throughout the day, we return to the subject again and again, from a thousand different directions, trying to tease out the threads of truth from the tangled yarn ball of our experience.

… I suspect, on reflection, that thread doesn’t come from yarn balls. Obviously, I should leave knitting metaphors to my brilliant wife.

From those conversations, I’ve distilled eight often-overlooked rules that act, I think, as powerful guidelines to enjoying your life as a writer.

  1. Don’t feel limited to one genre or voice. Your reader is smart; they’ll appreciate your range, even if they don’t follow you into new places.
  2. Don’t begin with back-story. Your reader is smart; if your world is consistent and your characters well-drawn, they’ll keep up.
  3. Don’t moderate your ambition. Your reader is smart; they’ll respect your reach, even if it should — for now — exceed your grasp.
  4. Don’t write to the market. Your reader is smart; they’re open to the next big thing, even if they don’t recognize it yet.
  5. Don’t waste time. Your reader is smart; they have better things to do than watch the page number tick ever upward.
  6. Don’t feel compelled to make your characters flawless. Your reader is smart; they understand that you don’t need to be perfect to be loved.
  7. Don’t try to imitate someone else’s voice. Your reader is smart; if they want someone who sounds like that, they’ll go to the original.
  8. Don’t stop writing. Your reader is smart; they’re waiting for you.