Zadie Smith’s 10 Rules of Writing
by Maria Popova “Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied.” In the winter of 2010, inspired by Elmore Leonard’s 10 rules of writing published in The New York Times nearly a decade earlier, The Guardian reached out to some of today’s most celebrated authors and asked them to each offer his or her rules. My favorite is Zadie Smith’s list — an exquisite balance of the practical, the philosophical, and the poetic: When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else.When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.Don’t romanticise your ‘vocation’. What a fine addition to famous writers’ timeless wisdom on the craft, including Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 rules for a great story, David Ogilvy’s 10 no-bullshit tips, Henry Miller’s 11 commandments, Jack Kerouac’s 30 beliefs and techniques, John Steinbeck’s 6 pointers, and Susan Sontag’s synthesized learnings.
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