On Thursday people on Twitter were losing their minds over one thing and one thing only – Jonathan Franzen’s ten rules for aspiring writers.* I’m not linking, they’re on Lithub if you want a look and included such gems as ‘when information becomes free and universally accessible, voluminous research for a novel is devalued along with it.’ What a legend.
I did enjoy how lots of other writers came up with their own versions though. This one from Sarah Gailey was particularly fun. Naturally I had a go at writing some of my own.
1. First, wash your hands. You don’t want any words you might have inadvertently touched rubbing off on your work, for instance from that inspirational coaster you got from the Secret Santa at work (my word you hate having a day job, unlike all the other plebs in your office. When will the world accept your greatness and give you the 6 figure book deal you deserve?).
2. Always wear a cravat. A cool neck impedes the writing process.
3. Read widely, but only literary fiction. Popular books are poison for the mind; bestsellers should be avoided like the plague.
(NB If you find yourself in a position where you have to read to a child, the only acceptable text is Moby Dick. That’s who Dick King Smith was named after so they’ll be able to relate.)
4. Never watch television, unless you can find a re-run of I, Claudius with Derek Jacobi. Or Rick and Morty. Only clever people get Rick and Morty.
5. Write everything in fountain pen. That makes it legally binding.
6. Avoid social media. You might accidentally hear an opinion that challenges your own viewpoint and gain a modicum of self awareness – THIS WILL RUIN YOUR CAREER.
7. When working on a new book, eat only quail’s eggs. #nom
8. Regularly go to art exhibitions and talk loudly about the work on display using only words of 8 letters or more. This will help you hone the skills needed for speaking about your own work with the appropriate level of verbosity.
9. Question everything. By everything I of course specifically mean why anyone would read (or write) for enjoyment over edification.
10. Be a middle class white dude. It might originally have been the universal voice of fiction due to colonialism or whatever, but the silver lining is we can now all relate to it the world over.
*Some people in the UK might also have tweeted about Brexit a little, idk.