A. L. Kennedy’s 10 Rules for Writing Fiction
These writing tips were gleaned from an interview A. L. Kennedy gave to the Guardian. Writer and performer, Alison Louise “A. L.” Kennedy is the author of 17 books: 6 literary novels, 1 science fiction novel, 7 short story collections, and 3 works of non-fiction. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
1 Have humility.
Older/more experienced/more convincing writers may offer rules and varieties of advice. Consider what they say. However, don’t automatically give them charge of your brain, or anything else – they might be bitter, twisted, burned-out, manipulative, or just not very like you.
2 Have more humility.
Remember you don’t know the limits of your own abilities. Successful or not, if you keep pushing beyond yourself, you will enrich your own life – and maybe even please a few strangers.
3 Defend others.
You can, of course, steal stories and attributes from family and friends, fill in filecards after lovemaking and so forth. It might be better to celebrate those you love – and love itself – by writing in such a way that everyone keeps their privacy and dignity intact.
4 Defend your work.
Organisations, institutions and individuals will often think they know best about your work – especially if they are paying you. When you genuinely believe their decisions would damage your work – walk away. Run away. The money doesn’t matter that much.
5 Defend yourself.
No amount of self-inflicted misery, altered states, black pullovers or being publicly obnoxious will ever add up to your being a writer. Writers write. On you go.
As much as you can. As deeply and widely and nourishingly and irritatingly as you can. And the good things will make you remember them, so you won’t need to take notes.
8 Be without fear.
This is impossible, but let the small fears drive your rewriting and set aside the large ones until they behave – then use them, maybe even write them. Too much fear and all you’ll get is silence.
9 Remember you love writing.
It wouldn’t be worth it if you didn’t. If the love fades, do what you need to and get it back.
10 Remember writing doesn’t love you.
It doesn’t care. Nevertheless, it can behave with remarkable generosity. Speak well of it, encourage others, pass it on.
Sharing this humble offering as — for those unaware of my current pickle and plight — I’m in a painful setback of the condition that’s traded my hands for embers, rendering them quite useless until it abates, which wouldn’t be quite so bad were there other limbs to pick up the slack.
This painting ‘Today’s Forecast’ by Cynthia Yolland, depicts systemic CRPS far finer than words…much as I love words. Though in the process of relearning all hands-free, as it’s taking a little longer than envisaged, and not wanting to leave you short-changed, sharing this.
Know I hide the severity, for this portal is my own sanctuary of sorts, and for you, not about me, well, gloriously pain-free at least, but should you wish to read it or know another it may give comfort to, a shimmering silver-lining is in this resource to help others with CRPS and other painful chronic illnesses here.
Less writerly souls would perhaps stop rising at silly o’clock, rest and recover far more passively but it’s been months of medical madness and disconnection from all so loved, from social media, life in all her magic too, and I’ve never made a good-lie-there-and-rest-type patient. A nurse however, a writer, artist, poet, and purveyor of love, of giggles and joy, that I can do. Just finding new ways to do it, solutions, means and methods, without flaring the flare.
And now, after reading this great post by the endlessly inspiring Lauren Sapala, How to Write Super Shareable Content for Your Author Blog, I’d love it if you’d share this article with other creative souls you think may find it helpful or edifying. Thanks so much, it’s always appreciated.