WRITER TO WRITER: 12 Possibly Relevant Tips at Year’s End

  1. Do not take your moods too seriously (exclusions to this rule include clinical depression, bipolar disorder, and the like; if any of these apply, seek expert help and do not skip your meds!) because the dark hole you inhabit today may well presto-change-o to a snowy peak tomorrow, and either way, you still have to face the blank page and write the next paragraph/page/chapter/repeat.
  2. Do know what makes your skin crawl, your stomach turn to mush, and your brain freeze because chances are at least some of your characters share your fears and, writers, this is useful knowledge.
  3. Do know what fills you with anger and despair, catch the passion and use it in your stories.
  4. Know who and what you love, get some of it every day, and be sure to share with others.
  5. Know there is time (there is always time until you are under dirt and you probably wouldn’t be reading these rules if you are under dirt so there is time).
  6. If you want to go faster, slow down.
  7. Know that there may be a part of you fighting to keep your stories from the world, and that same part of you will not fight fair, and you must learn to listen, acknowledge, and set very firm boundaries because chances are, that part of you is not a grownup and is terrified for your well-being and lives in a very early and primal place in your psyche.
  8. Remember, not everyone faces the same inner-demons but everyone faces at least one big ole’ hairy-scary so know you have company and be as brave as you can.
  9. Laugh loud and when people look at you, laugh louder—as long as you are not being cruel, laughter is always appropriate.
  10. Honor the Winter Solstice as a time to rest, go deep, be very still, and nourish yourself—preferably with chocolate and possibly with tequila.
  11. Never forget Kurt Vonnegut’s 6th tip: “Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them, in order that the reader may see what they are made of.”
  12. Oh, and ditto his 7th tip: “Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.” For that matter, even if you’ve heard them a hundred times, listen again to his 8 tips: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyQ1wEBx1V0

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