Writing rules are part of our free lesson plans to help you build an ever-growing repertoire of prose that has been published. You can make money writing. You’ll need published prose and much more being readied for submission if you want to call yourself a writer.
Here are some DOs and DON’Ts to help aspirants over some stumbling blocks all writers face, whether you write short stories or novels, even nonfiction.
DO write regardless what people may think. Write for yourself first. Set your muse free. Be driven. Write as if your life depends on it.
DO let your friends know that you are writing and it’s the reason you’re not around much.
DO carry your laptop or pen and notepad everywhere you go. Write down new material as soon as you think of it. Catch it when it’s fresh and you will also catch the emotion behind it.
DO learn your peak creative times; maybe mornings, maybe evenings, or late at night.
DO set aside as much writing time as you need. Set a schedule and stick to it – unless your muse wants to write at all hours. Time set aside is, perhaps, when the young ones are down for their naps, or maybe after the rest of the family is in bed for the night.
DO turn off the TV and maybe even music if the latter distracts. If background music helps, fine.
DO read books and other materials relative to the subject about which you write. A good example is how writers get ideas simply by reading the headlines. Also, reading writing rules in general can spark creativity.
DO allow yourself only limited time socializing on the Internet. It’s one thing to market your writing, another to fool yourself into believing you’re helping your professional career.
DO have a clear mind when you write. During your chosen private time, think only of your stories and not about unfinished chores.
DO set a goal to write X number of words, if that motivates you.
DO get ALL your work edited if you expect to make money writing. Adhere to established writing rules. Knowledgeable friends can edit short pieces. Build your bank of benevolent friends who will help.
Have several people available so you aren’t expecting one sole person to become your private critique group. Repay their kindnesses by taking them to dinner, remembering a birthday, or generally helping them when they need it. Longer stories like novellas and novels should be edited by a professional.
DO seek a knowledgeable person when looking your first edits. An elderly auntie with time on her hands just won’t do it, unless she’s a retired English teacher or similar professional. Remember: Friends and family will not tell you what’s wrong with your work for fear of hurting your feelings, but they may stare at you a lot after reading it.
DO see the results of an edit as constructive criticism and a stepping stone to learning to be a better writer.
DO read the results of your edit thoroughly. Accept what you feel applies; disregard the rest, but not too, too quickly. A good editor knows how to bring your piece of prose in line with what’s selling today. That is what you hope to accomplish, right? You want to make money writing and become known as a professional.
DO set your prose aside for a few days or a couple of weeks once you feel it is now the best you can make it. This is one of the best writing rules. Now is the time you will remember little ways to make the piece even better, like putting that final twirl on the frosting that’s already on the cake.
DO submit your writing when you feel it is polished. If it’s ready, you need to begin to find places to submit your gem. Again, follow the writing rules of submissions.
DO follow submission guidelines. They are made available to help you zero in on markets that want your work. Many publishers produce their own free lesson plans on becoming a writer. These tell you what they in particular want to see in your prose.
DO continue working on other stories once you submit the finished ones. Be constantly aware of following writing rules and guideline protocols.
DO allow a publisher their stated time to consider your story. A publisher will set a deadline. That means they will not decide what they will publish till after the deadline. Many publishers tell you when you can expect a response. Many publishers have their own set of writing rules with which to judge your prose, and you will never know it.
DO enter contests. Enter contests charging fees ONLY if your writing is some of the best on the market. You must have a stellar story to make it worth paying a fee.
DO send some sort of thank you to an editor who critiques, even in some small way. An email will do. If it’s all handled through the mail, splurge and buy a stamp and a thank you card. In fact, purchase a box of business-like thank you cards. You won’t find this in writing rules. It’s just a matter of professional graciousness.
All editors know one another. Can you see two or more editors or publishers sitting around having coffee and discussing clients? One says, “I sent one writer what I thought were constructive criticisms and what I got back was a nasty note telling me I didn’t know my business.” Right away, the other editors will ask, “Who was this person that we need to avoid?”
DO send a huge thank you when your prose is accepted. Not gushing, mind you. Assuming you have a Web site, create a link to your story when it’s published to support the editor or publisher’s effort. This is one of the last writing rules, but not the least of them.
DO have a Web site or blog where you can announce your acceptance. Do post on blogs and others’ Web sites where allowed. If you’ve built up friendships in the writing world, ask those friends if they will post a note about your story with a link to it or if they will exchange a permanent link with you. Managing self-promotion will keep your name in public view.
DO celebrate, perhaps, according the size and importance of your acceptance. One short story may not be worth a trip to Paris, but selling a novel might.
Writing rules provide guidelines to smooth your way into a solid career. Study any free lesson plans you discover. They will help you not only with the publisher offering them but can also be stating market demands at the moment.
You can make money writing, so follow the writing rules. Polish those short stories, articles, and pieces of prose, and send them out.
Write as if your life depends on it.