Monday, August 23, 2010

Writing Commandments?

Are there specific commandments for writing? Raymond Obstfeld thinks so, and has outlined them in this article in Writer's Digest, the Ten Commandments of Fiction Writing.

What about writers of other genres? Obstfeld's commandments, I think, apply to writers of non-fiction as well. He encourages writers to take themselves seriously, act like a professional, read a lot, and love the process. This is savvy advice for any writer, don't you think?

What are your writing commandments? What key elements must be in place for productivity and success? And while we're on the topic, how do you define writing success?

Yay for Followers

Welcome to my new followers! The numbers are creeping up there, and before you know it, we'll need to have a 150 followers giveaway. To followers old and new, if you have a blog, I like to reciprocate and follow, but occasionally I cannot locate the link. So if I've not signed up to follow yours, leave a comment with the blog address and I'll see what I can do. Thanks so much for your support!

Happy writing:)

Blessings for the week,
Image credit Stock.xchng - Thingvellir Plain, Iceland, GretheB


  1. Do you have a link to his commandments?? I have none, really... but I could use some inspiration! Thanks Karen, I love your blog!

  2. commandment: write through fear

    success: if I'm still writing

    Glad people keep following you. Yours is an insightful blog.
    ~ Wendy

  3. Missed you. Glad you're back! :O)

  4. Thanks for pointing us to this great article, Karen. I struggle with a schedule...operate mostly on the spare change method but long to use the gridlock because I feel I would be more productive.
    My commandment...never find myself with nothing to do. Always have a work in progress.

  5. The first commandment is to sit down and write! Write grocery lists, Post-It notes, love letters...anything, but write!

    The second commandment is to love writing no matter who criticizes you, discourages you, rejects your story or if you ever get published.

    The third commandment is learn more about writing from reading, researching, other writers...

  6. Write about passions, especially those others share.

  7. I'd say to love writing, read, and write about things you know.

  8. For me, it's definitely read a lot, write a lot. :)

  9. Just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing . . . sung in a singsong voice like Dory in Finding Nemo (just keep swimming).

    Then there is read a lot, write a lot.

    I probably could use a few more.

    Success is feeling satisfied with my work . . . or at least enough that I feel good about it. There is always a word here or there that I think needs to be changed later. When I feel good enough to submit something for publication, I usually feel success in that moment. Of course, not every publisher agrees, and then with constructive criticism, I get to learn how to be "more successful."

    Thanks for your thought-provoking post! I definitely want to read that article.


  10. Read a lot and write a lot. Under these two laws hang all the rest of the commandments. Okay, so I'm paraphrasing. But this covers about 95 percent of my commandments. Read and write. Repeat process.

    Stephen Tremp

  11. I think my main commandment is to keep on and never give up!

  12. So I wrote this whole comment and then my phone rang and shut down my computer and it was my husband telling me about his latest golf game and so now--this is the comment:)) I will check out the link:)

  13. Karen:
    Commandments: Write everyday. Learn to self-edit, Don't fall in love with your words because you might have to lose them. Develop a thick skin.

  14. Well, I come here b/c it's informative and warm and fun.

    Hmmm. I wish we could just stick to those of Jesus and let Him write it out freestyle...

  15. Hi Karen -

    Congrats on 133 Followers!

    Treat my readers as I want my readers to treat me. Put their needs ahead of my own, blog faithfully, and give them my best.

    Susan :)

  16. Marja,
    Thanks! :) If you click on the words Ten Commandments in that first paragraph, it should link you to the article. If you can't get it to work, let me know and I will email you the link.

    Great advice! We are successful when we keep at it, that's such a good thing to remember, thanks! :)

    Thanks, missed you too! Will make my way around to the gangs' blogs this week:)

    You are welcome! This, too, is good advice. We can usually almost keep ourselves busy in our sleep, can't we? :P

    Good stuff! You are so right. And if you could see my desk, there'd be plenty of evidence of writing. Not much organization at the moment, but I'm working on that:)

    And yet more good advice! Thanks so much; this is so true.

    Yes, these are all key elements, and things we should never neglect! :)

    I agree, and must say I cannot do without these things!

    Thanks and blessings to each of you,

  17. Tyrean,
    What good advice, and now how many of us will be singing along with you? :) I hope the article is helpful.

    Ah, well said, and you are correct, I think. The rest does follow for those who are called and dedicated to this writing thing.

    So golf can be a good thing:) I've done that, typed a lovely comment and then it goes who knows where sometimes. Glad you stopped:)

    Oh yes, this is an absolute must! I am so thankful for this gang of friends (you included) who inspire and encourage.

    Very good points - this is essential for success. Glad you brought it up! :)

    You are so sweet! You bring up another point - to be led by the One who gives us everything.

    Thank you! Excellent points here too. We reap what we sow, even in this arena, don't we?

    Thanks and blessings to each of you,

  18. Hi personal commandment would be read as much as you can not only in the genre one writes but other genres as well. And write as much as you can. Not all our writing may be great, but practice does bring one closer to perfection.

  19. Hi karen .. once I'm settled next week and back in a place of my own, I must get myself organised with a shedule .. and be a little more 'with it' .. as I'm not writing professionally I guess I have a little leeway. Though I enjoyed the murder mystery story I wrote recently .. just light relief, by being able to think of something completely different - took my mind of the hassles of life.

    Have fun .. and a good week .. Hilary

  20. Rachna,
    This is a good point; we need to explore other genres sometimes. I think it can broaden our horizons and help us grow. :)

    I need to get back into more of a schedule too. I like the flexibility I have but sometimes it lends itself to lower productivity on my part. Good point!

    Thanks and blessings to each of you,

  21. Welcome back, Karen! Never thought about commandments when it comes to writing. Does Obstfeld indicate whether omitting one of these commandments dooms the writer's piece to failure? Do you have a link to the original article? I believe success in writing can look different to each writer. When an article is accepted for publication, I consider that success. When one of my articles or posts has an impact on someone and they share that with me, the article/post has been successful. If I feel the Lord has given me something to share and I'm obedient to share it, that's success too! Have a fantastic week, filled with blessings!

  22. Apparently the link I provided for this article is not showing up for some of you. It should be highlighted in the title of the article in the first paragraph above. For those who can't see it, here is the link:

    I don't think that he dooms anyone who doesn't do them to failure but he makes a good case for how important it is to keep on target and move ahead. You have a good week too:)

    Thanks and blessings,

  23. Keep on writing and be honest about your writing--what you write doesn't have to be true, but you should be willing to accept responsibility for writing it.

    Success? --Whether or not you've reached your writing goals. It's different for different writers.

    Tossing It Out

  24. My commandments.

    Take care of body and spirit.
    Seek simplicity.
    Be present on the page and in the moment.

    Success? That I'm following my passion, my call.

  25. Karen--cheering you on to 150 followers! My writing commandment? Enjoy the process--and don't be so busy looking toward the destination that you forget to enjoy the scenery along the way :-)

  26. There is so much to your post, but I'll just focus on what God is teaching me now!

    I feel like there is a movement to writing, which is probably true all are professions. We have to recognize this current we're in.

    For example, I'm in a full-on swim with my writing. I feel a pressure to get to shore. I know when I arrive, I'll fall on the sand. But, I need to keep my eyes on the land and keep making each stroke. I can analyze the swim later ;-)

  27. Oops! I meant to write "all art professions," but I'm sure every profession has a certain flow to it!

  28. Lee,
    Very good point - taking responsibility for what we write. Which also should cause us to think before we hit send, print, etc.

    Yes, I have to agree here too. We come as a package, and this does affect our writing.

    Thank you! This is great advice; stop and enjoy the journey too. I need to do that more often:)

    Love this analogy! It all comes in a balance, doesn't it?

    Blessings to each of you,

  29. Karen,
    Vey good advice. I know so many writers who hesitate to say they are writers. I know several teachers who prefer to say they teach. Professional is as professional does. Thanks for the tips.


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!