Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil GaimanAnyone who’s approached me and asked me about writing usually results in me saying that the most important rule in writing is the simplest: 1. Write. That’s taken from Neil Gaiman’s rules of writing, which I have on a poster and hung above my main writing nook in my house. This is probably the best thing I could possibly share with anyone hoping to ever write anything. There is no better advice that I, personally, could give you, so here are those rules.

  1. Write
  2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.
  3. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.
  4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.
  5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
  6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
  7. Laugh at your own jokes.
  8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

Seems easy, right? The first rule is also not just the most important, but also often the hardest. But the thing is if you can get past that, you’re golden.

Speaking of writing, here are a few things I put together this week over at Tech Times:

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