Advice for the Artistic Life

With thanks to Michael Rushton, here’s my excerpted and twisted take on The Guardian’s Ten Rules for Writing Fiction.

(My edits in green)


There’s no free lunch. Writing [singing] is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but essentially you’re on your own. Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine. (Margaret Atwood)

Do change your mind. Good ideas are often murdered by better ones. (Roddy Doyle)

Have regrets. They are fuel. On the page [stage] they flare into desire. (Geoff Dyer)

Don’t read your reviews.  Don’t wish ill on your colleagues. (Richard Ford)

Never take advice from anyone with no investment in the outcome. (David Hare)

Style is the art of getting yourself out of the way, not putting yourself in it. (David Hare)

Never complain of being misunderstood. You can choose to be understood, or you can choose not to. (David Hare)

Remember you love writing [singing]. It wouldn’t be worth it if you didn’t.  If the love fades, do what you need to and get it back.  Remember writing [singing] doesn’t love you. It doesn’t care. Nevertheless, it can behave with remarkable generosity. Speak well of it, encourage others, pass it on. (Al Kennedy)

And, my favorite:

Marry somebody you love and who thinks you being a writer’s [singer’s] a good idea. (Richard Ford)

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