Recently, I was asked to teach a few Grade Eights the secrets of How To Write. I didn’t think I was really someone to ask, but because I love the sound of my own voice and I thought at the very least I could throw a chalkboard duster at someone who fell asleep, I agreed.
It got me thinking about something I hadn’t really thought about: my rules for writing.
As for the secret to writing?
You place a day-old magpie egg under a sleeping tabby cat at midnight. Then you make the egg into a smoothie and drink it while dancing counter-clockwise in the moonlight to the Best of Abba. If you do that while wearing jeggings, Mufasa will appear in the sky and say “Now you have the power to write. Mamma mia, here I go again.”
If that doesn’t work, here are my other rules:
1) Write what you want.
Seriously, just write whatever. Write what would you would write if no one was ever going to read it. If you want to write about fashion-savvy raccoons with relationship problems, do it.
2) Stick by your work
People tell you to believe in your work. That’s hard. Sometimes the story you’re writing will feel bad, or worthless, or like no one’s ever going to want to read it. You might want to delete the whole thing. But you have to keep writing. The story goes that Stephen King threw away the first draft of his novel Carrie. Carrie went on to sell 4 million copies.
3) 2nd draft = 1st draft – 10%
4) Have fun.
This is the golden one. Writing something purely for the love of it gives it an authenticity, and I think someone once told me that the key to making friends is authenticity. I think it’s the key to making readers too.