Writing “Do’s” and “Don’ts”


As part of a Storyweaving Writer’s Workshop, I chose the following quote from a list:

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
-W. Somerset Maugham

I was then told to write the three rules of writing “dos” that work for me, and the three don’ts (in 15 minutes). So, here goes.


1. I have to have feelings about the subject of my writing. I can’t just fritter the time away creating lovely prose that has no meaning to me. I’ve even found that some of the pieces I’ve written that I’ve spent little time on are the most powerful because of the strong feelings or passion I had for the issue. So, I must have feelings – good or bad – about what I write.
2. Getting pen to paper works for me. Once the ink starts flowing, so, too, do the ideas. The same is true for the keyboard, but I have to admit that some of my favorite writing has been longhand. There are studies that prove this true for some physiological/psychological reasons, but I know it from personal experience. A “do” is to start writing. It’s never failed me.
3. I try (emphasis on try) to not edit and let the words flow and allow the ideas to surface. I’ve been surprised where stories will take me, both fiction and non-fiction. It’s amazing how the mind works and conjures up memories long forgotten when the ink meets paper. Therefore, I find it so important to trust the process and let the words tell the story that may otherwise remain captive inside.


1. I don’t like to schedule writing time, but I’ve done it when necessary. I’d really rather let the writing happen when the right juices are flowing. (I know, this is very contrary to what many writers say, but this is about me.) I give much credit to journalists who work under deadline to produce writing for others’ consumption. I’ve done this, too, and it is not my preference.
2. I don’t choose subjects I’m not comfortable with. I still remember meeting a woman who decided to write a book about jockeys, but she knew little of horses, racing, or jockeys. Some people may prefer this, but I think that with a rich life spanning half a century that surely there is enough that I do know about to convey through my writing.
3. Finally, I don’t like writing about dark subjects. It may be all the rage, but I prefer to see light – some light – in everything. I’ll let others focus on darkness while I pursue some positivity in my writing. Good stories do involve conflict, which is not always pretty, but in many cases is it how we deal with the conflict that creates the positive story.

Thank you, Carol Burbank, for a tremendous day of “storyweaving” in the woods and for suggesting I share this list.

Anyone else willing to share some “do’s” and “don’ts?”


  1. Writing is supposed to be a creative process and it seems like there are so many rules imposed upon the process by everyone else that stifle it. It’s good to see a writer can set their own rules by what works for them! Gives me hope! LOL! Great post!