Stephen King’s Rules for Writing

Stephen King’s rules are directed to fiction writers but most of them apply to every other kind. I endorse them all but would heavily qualify the “You can write!” last two to “You can write! But probably just for your mother.” Particularly interesting is number 11:

11. There are two secrets to success. “I stayed physical healthy, and I stayed married.”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen the second half of that sentence in any such list, yet it’s crucial. Stability and domesticity help you write, especially to write well over decades. This is true for single people as well, though their forms of stability and domesticity will be different, and will take a different kind of effort to maintain.

Too many otherwise sensible people think of the writer as the one who sacrifices everything for his art. They think this not just of great poets and novelists but of themselves, even if they’re just writing items for a weblog seven people read. This way of thinking about your vocation may produce one or two good works, and maybe a few more if you’re a genius (which you’re not), but it ends badly not just for the writer and usually for many people associated with him but for his writing.

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