Friday, October 08, 2010

Writer Zen Ten

The Ten Grave Precepts of Writer Zen

1. No killing dogs, cats, birds, ferrets, hamsters, goldfish or any other helpless animal in the story.

Bump off all the humans you want; just leave the poor defenseless critters alone!

2. No stealing titles from other writers' published work.

That goes for cool character names, too.

3. No misusing sex scenes.

Work out your divorce on your own time.

4. No speaking falsely in the author biography.

We know you aren't the greatest American novelist of all time, or we would have seen you on Oprah after the Dr. Oz explained how high colonics are our friends.

5. No giving or taking chocolate-covered Valium.

Unless you get completely hideous cover art, in which case, I'll give you a two-year supply along with counseling and free membership in my little support group.

6. No discussing the faults of non-writers.

We need them to drag us out of the workspace now and then or we'll starve before we finish that rewrite of chapter three.

7. No praising yourself while abusing other writers.

They're not that bad. You're not that great.

8. No sparing the character assets.

Of course a recovering crack whore hiding from the cops in a flop house room with a sometimes-boyfriend named Wife Beater is a truly hip protagonist, but she's also a little depressing. In between detox and ER visits, have the girl volunteer at the local library, or deliver Meals on Wheels or something.

9. No indulging in anger at one's editor or agent.

Naturally if you have the financially independence that allows you to wait forever for that next advance check or contract negotiation, go ahead.

10. No defaming the Three Publishing Treasures (Dan Brown, Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling.)

Like they care what you think anyway.

This list was inspired by a link I found over at The Presurfer for ZenHabits, a blog devoted to "finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives. It’s about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, find happiness."

Which I think for writers, is writing. Yes?


  1. 3. No misusing sex scenes.

    Er... no. Sorry... I'm gonna misuse sex scenes all I want.

    It's such fun....

  2. ... You can get them dipped in *chocolate*???!!

    How did I not know that?

  3. 1. No killing dogs, cats, etc...

    In my writers group, one of the writers bumped off the YA main character's beloved family dog. We all went nuts as readers.

    In later versions, the dog lives.

  4. I don't know if writing = happy, but not writing brings the CRANKY for sure. : O

  5. Just last night my book group was slamming Meyer.

    I kept my mouth shut. I liked the books. And I wouldn't criticize Brown or Rowling for the world. Some of the best books I've read in the last 20 years.

    My favorite advice is that about slamming other writers. If more writers followed this one, we'd all improve more, and we'd get along a lot better. Slamming other writing doesn't make mine look any better. It just keeps me from making friends.

  6. Interesting:D

    Indeed, although can't hold myself from dissing Meyer once in a while.

  7. One of my fav authors killed off a dog in her book, way before the actual story started and it wasn't even mentioned until halfway through and in passing. Though no one met the dog, she took so much flack for that, she swore off never killing another animal again.

  8. Add children and horses to the list of "thou shalt not kill" list, particularly if you are writing in a market where the majority of the readers are women.

  9. I can think of one (nameless yet huge) author who had many sex scenes in her books. Or one sex scene, depending on how you look at it. All of her sex scenes were exactly the same. The guy did this, the woman reacted like that, etc.

    I figured that either she really wanted her husband to do this and that, and this was the way she told him, or that this was the way he did this and that, and she didn't want him to realize that he was boring.

    So yeah, no mis using sex scene please :)

  10. Is slamming other writers ok if you don't praise yourself at the same time?

    I admit, I'm guilty of the occasional slamming, but I do try to edit what I say, and I don't do it in the presence of anyone who personally knows said writer.

    A hearty amen for #3. I'd elucidate, but it would involve #7. At least you don't know him.

  11. Some of these are making me laugh and that's not the point.

    bad author


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