Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Zadie Smith’s ten rules of writing

with 4 comments

  1. When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else.
  2. When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.
  3. Don’t romanticise your “vocation.” You can either write good sentences or you can’t. There is no “writer’s lifestyle.” All that matters is what you leave on the page.
  4. Avoid your weaknesses. But do this without telling yourself that the things you can’t do aren’t worth doing. Don’t mask self-doubt with contempt.
  5. Leave a decent space of time between writing something and editing it.
  6. Avoid cliques, gangs, groups. The presence of a crowd won’t make your writing any better than it is.
  7. Work on a computer that is disconnected from the ­internet.
  8. Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.
  9. Don’t confuse honours with achievement.
  10. Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand—but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never ­being satisfied.

Zadie Smith in The Guardian, February 20, 2010

Written by nevalalee

September 7, 2011 at 7:57 am

Posted in Writing

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4 Responses

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  1. ah – number ten. what a great line of advice. love that woman! thanks for sharing : )


    September 7, 2011 at 10:05 am

  2. I think number two is my favorite.


    September 7, 2011 at 1:04 pm

  3. No.1 gets to the heart of what all aspiring writers need to remember; the 3 r’s: read, read, read.


    September 10, 2011 at 8:58 am

  4. Agreed. If there’s one necessary condition for becoming a writer—aside from the writing itself—it’s nonstop reading.


    September 10, 2011 at 11:36 am

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