The 4 writing commandments

So, at 12 days into the New Year, how are your new years resolutions? More specifically, how are your writing goals going? Writing 2,000 words a day? 20 pages a week? Or are you exhausted after work, sitting in a bean bag chair in the nude eating Cheetos by the bag full? I haven’t done that, mind you. I’d scare the bejesus out of my kids if I did.

Well, dear writers, fellow bros and sisters of the pen and keyboard, let’s re-commit to the 4 writing commandments, shall we? There’s only 4, it’s not like I’m telling you we need to have another 10 like that shaggy haired dude Moses said. BTW, I read a recent article by Christopher Hitchens in Vanity Fair where it stated that there were actually several different versions of the 10 commandments were mentioned throughout the Bible in different books (Exodus, Dueteronomy, and a couple others if memory serves), which proves the Good Book was a product of man, but that is a topic for another day. If you are a regular follower of this blog, you know that my mom recently passed, and I am certain that she’s smiling down on her little boy from Heaven.

But let’s get back to the topic at hand. The Four Writing Commandments are as follows:

1. Keep to a schedule. Don Phillips, a legendary film producer, and a dear friend, told me once, “write every f***ing day.” It keeps you loose, relaxed, and it helps you whittle away the crap. Because, let’s face it, most of everyday life these days, is crap. As writers, we need to clear that crap away. We need to, as King put it,kill our little darlings. Therefore, you need to put ass in chair and crank out the words EVERY DAY in order to throw most of it away.

2. Hire a professional editor. Not mom. Not Aunt Sue. You need a ballbreaker here. Someone that will take the fat red pen and wipe it across your beloved baby without passion or prejudice. If I may, I recommend my editor on my latest novel, The Brink, for the job. His name is Mark Graham at He’s expensive, but he is worth every frickin’ penny. He helped me transform the way I write. Go, and do likewise.

3. Promote before you publish. Know your publishing date? Even have an inkling of when it will be published? Start the shameless self promotion tour 2011 right now. Who’s your audience? How do you reach them? Who are the area community relations managers at the area bookstores? Will you publish in traditonal or eBook format? Traditional or self-pub? Talk to area library directors and community groups. Make them your friends. Say you’ll be a speaker. Community groups are ALWAYS looking for speakers. Hone your presentation to these groups.

4. Set your publication date. Your new year’s resolution was probably, “I will get published this year.” Don’t let the big publishing houses determine your fate. Sure, it’d be great if you got a juicy book deal. If you don’t, give yourself one. Self-publishing is a viable alternative, a chance to prove to the houses what you’ve got, you can publish an eBook for free on up to paying several thousand for a “self supported” publishing experience. Whatever direction you go, know that you are the master of your own writing destiny. And we only had to go through 4 commandments to realize that.


3 Responses

  1. I will forward this to my daughter who writes and aspires to publish one day. I will really miss your mom. She was a very special person. Her service was lovely. It was nice to meet you, but the circumstances were very sad.

  2. Good information! I Like your four commandments.
    I’ve been an editor professionally, and do some editing, now. I find authors get enraged at suggestions for making their books better, no matter how nicely I phrase my comments. You can’t be thin-skinned in this business. Thanks for posting these.

    • Fran,
      Thanks for your comment. Oh yes, I couldn’t agree more that writers need “shark skin” in order to navigate the publishing waters. Hope your New Year is prosperous and joyful!

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