I read a great article yesterday by a newly published author — Khanh Ha. His first book, Flesh, was released this month from Black Heron Press.
Mr. Ha is of Asian descent. In his article, he speaks about writing from a voice that is not your own. A voice in which your ethnic background is totally different from that of your character’s. It is difficult to accomplish this task, as a writer needs to pull from a place where she’s never “been.” His article then goes into giving the reader some tips on becoming a successful, published author.
I enjoyed the article in its entirety; however, Mr. Ha’s 7 Rules for Writing really drove it home for me:
So you want to write a novel. Do you have a writing routine? I know no one’s routine is like another’s. While writing FLESH, I was regimented. I wrote every day. Each day faithfully by sticking to the seven rules—7 is my lucky number.
#1—find discipline in solitude, in aloneness so you can meet your characters. It’s like a rendezvous with ghosts. Then make that meeting every day or every night with no excuses.
#2—write each scene as if it were the only thing in your universe—it must command all your attention.
#3—write one scene well and that scene would breed the next scene.
#4—leave room for readers to participate: don’t overwrite.
#5—stop where you still have something to say so the next day you won’t face a dry well.
#6—read each day to keep your mind off your own writing.
#7—don’t believe in anybody’s rules except yours.
If you were born to write, write something, even if it’s just a suicide note. Somewhere I remember Toni Morrison once said, “I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it.”
[Credit: Khanh Ha, “Rules for Writing and Revising Your Novel”]
These 7 rules are golden! But the rule I liked best — “#7 — don’t believe in anybody’s rules except yours.” Many new authors do more reading about “how” to write and “how” to be an author and “what NOT to do…” that we 1) don’t spend enough time writing — the whole goal, and 2) have so many conflicting pieces of advice that we stay still for fear that we’ll choose the wrong writing path to travel down and break the rules. The only rules are the ones you set for yourself…
The full article can be found here. It is worth the read. And then, get to writing!
Time to share…
How do you feel about Mr. Ha’s 7 rules for writing? Will you implement any of them in your writing life? Which one(s) would you change?