What are your writing commandments?
As I prepare to head off to the Tucson Festival of Books tomorrow, I feel like returning to the basics of writing that are always so refreshingly simple.
My colleague Martin Beck passed on writing commandments from Brit George Orwell, which you can read here.
Ad man legend David Ogilvy has these commandments. I particularly like his view that writing is not a God-given ability, but a craft that anyone can learn.
Novelist Henry Miller chimes in with these 11 commandments.
It’s wonderful how similar they all are.
So again I ask, What are your writing commandments?
I hope it won’t sound too presumido to say that any Sam Quinones Commandments would include, in no particular order:
-Read a lot — above all On Writing Well, By William Zinsser, and Calvin Trillin, too (& Bob Baker, my former LAT colleague).
-If your story isn’t working, you need to report more.
-Cut as many words with Latin roots as possible. “Problematize” is a word I once saw somewhere. (Yikes!)
-Remember the difference between “that” and “which”
-Never use the word “ongoing” and be very careful whenever using “process” with an adjective, e.g. “the writing process” (Yikes!)
-Remove adjectives whenever possible. Adverbs, too.
-The ending is at least as important as the beginning.
-Leave the office. Now.