Friday, September 21, 2012

Pocket Muse Excerpt: Ten Commandments


  1. Don't wait for inspiration; establish a writing habit.
  2. Take time off.
  3. Read voraciously.
  4. Shut out the inner critic.
  5. Claim a space.
  6. Claim some time.
  7. Accept rejection.
  8. Expect success.
  9. Live fully.
  10. Wish others well
Excerpt from Monica Wood's The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing
Wood, Monica. The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing. Cincinnati, Ohio, 2002


These are the commandments that Monica Wood prescribes for fellow writers to have a happy and fulfilling writing life and in this list is the summary of a good deal of the lessons contained within her book.  I thought it might be interesting for us to compile individual ten commandment lists and then make a master Detrangled Writer's Ten Commandments list as a compilation of our own experience, drives, and writing desires.

Amanda LaFantasie (Skoora) © 2012


  1. I think the most important one is number 3. You have to read in order to know how to write. By reading you get a feel for how story is crafted. And it is key especially if you are writing something that follows a template, like sci fi or romance. You have to know what to write in order to know how to write it.

  2. although I agree that number 3 is important, I also think that creating something unique in a genera can be achived by reading genera's outside of the one you are writing in. For example, In my Novel Boot Camp session, the e-author, (sorry I can't remember her name) that wrote Frog Prince, actually never read romance novel. However, Frog Prince, is labeled as a romance novel and has done very well in the e-book world because it is unique for the genera.
    I like also creating a routine to get words on the page (1,5,6). I need to get on track with a routine.

  3. I believe all of these commandments are very helpful for writers, and I have to agree that 3 is especially helpful (as someone who does not read as much as they should, I can attest to this) however, I am not certain I would claim any one of these as the most helpful. I was speaking with Skoora about this this topic yesterday, and I would wonder if perhaps this list could be revised to include an eleventh commandment.

    "Remember to take some time to immerse yourself in real life."

    Or to amend commandment 9. "Live fully and take the time to experience the world through your own five senses."

    What I mean by this is - in my Personal and Exploratory Writing class, we have repeatedly been asked to go out to bars, coffee shops, parks, wherever there is a rich population of people. The task is simply to listen. Take in what the people are saying, see how absolutely bizarre the real world is. When Skoora and I talked about this, we discussed how so many writers tend to forget about the world beyond the desk or the library. How they will sometimes become lost in the realm of their writing space. I believe this is a very dangerous trap, and I would risk saying, that this is just as important as any of the aforementioned commandments.

    If I had to place a most important commandment, I would probably - tentatively mind you - choose 9. Reading is great, and it helps build the formula for 'how' to write. However, without living, it's impossible to know 'what' to write. That is my own personal experience of course and this opinion as well as my experiences are certainly not the same as others.

    Thank you for sharing this list, Skoora. It is a wonderful resource that I intend to look back on for future reference.