Novelist Elif Shafak urges authors to write the book they would love to read
1. Writing is a tribute to solitude. It is choosing introversion over extroversion, lonely hours/days/weeks/years over fun and sociability. Writers might enjoy a good gossip or a crazy party once in a while, but the act of writing and the nexus of our lives is pure solitude.
2. The only way to learn writing is by writing. Talent, as charming as it sounds, amounts to no more than 12 per cent of the process. Work is 80 per cent. The remaining 8 per cent is “luck” or “zeitgeist” – in short, things that are not in our hands.
3. Read. Read a lot. But do not solely read the same writers. If possible, read widely, irrationally. Fiction cannot be reduced to a function.
4. Write the book you’d love to read. If you enjoy what you are writing (which doesn’t mean you won’t suffer while writing it) chances are people will feel the same way while reading it. If there is no love between the author and the story, there is no love between the reader and the story.
5. Don’t be afraid of depression. It is part and parcel of the journey. But be careful not to romanticise depression. Treat it as a free-spirited, unreliable friend who comes and goes as she likes.
6. Have no mercy on yourself. Cut. Destroy. Revise. Take entire pages out. Bad writing is like a bad relationship. Don’t be addicted to it just because you are familiar with its ways. Let go.
7. However, don’t be merciless on your characters. Do not look down upon them. Our job is not to judge them but to understand them and help other people understand them. Empathy is the key word.
8. Whatever you do, do not talk about the novel you are writing. This will make lunch with your agent or publisher rather awkward. When they inquire what you are working on, take a sip of wine and utter a few words, muffled enough not to give any clues but interesting enough to arouse their curiosity without disturbing the mystical forces of the universe. Good Luck!
9. Forget the readers. Forget the critics. Forget everyone. In fact, forget there is a world outside.
10. There is no such thing as writer’s block. Still, if you ever run out of inspiration go to Istanbul, spend a few days in the chaos of the city; observing, listening, feeding the seagulls, feeling shrunken and expanded at once.
11. Finally, ignore every single one of my rules. There are no rules for writing. That’s the beauty of it. That’s the freedom we should not allow anyone to take from us.
Source: The Telegraph