© mj 2019


ten rules for making/being/doing

Posted on by Molly Johnson

what i've discovered is this: being on the road - even whilst visiting fabulous foreign cities and performing night after night - allows for lovely pockets of time where the mind can churn and one can put pen to paper, or as the case may be, soft doughy fingers to keypad.

since dropping back into reality, life has demanded a somewhat more rigorous approach to the daily grind, leaving little time for the churning and the typing. to some degree, i blame this new kind of drive on my highly motivated and motivational partner, james. but where i lay blame, i bestow gratitude. cause i'm into it. things are happening around here, and that is only because, like jean-luc picard - star trek, anyone?! - we are choosing to make it so.

and so in the interest of keeping that ball rolling without losing the rhythm of this one, i want to share not my own words, but this offering from one of my favourite scribes, zadie smith. rules for writing, but her advice certainly applies to the creation of art of any kind.

zadie smith's ten rules for writing
(from the insanely excellent site, brain pickings)

1 When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else.

2 When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.

3 Don't romanticise your "vocation". You can either write good sentences or you can't. There is no "writer's lifestyle". All that matters is what you leave on the page.

4 Avoid your weaknesses. But do this without telling yourself that the things you can't do aren't worth doing. Don't mask self-doubt with contempt.

5 Leave a decent space of time between writing something and editing it.

6 Avoid cliques, gangs, groups. The presence of a crowd won't make your writing any better than it is.

7 Work on a computer that is disconnected from the ­internet.

8 Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.

9 Don't confuse honours with achievement.

10 Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand – but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never ­being satisfied.