In addition to these (see March 1st):
- Write once a day whenever possible.
- Write about whatever comes to my head.
- Do not use the real names of private persons.
I am adding these:
- Write the truth.
- Write for the ages.
- Keep what you write to less than a thousand words.
- Avoid numbers and measures.
Write the truth
I should not even have to say this, it should be taken for granted. Many, however, seem to write not the truth but what they think others want to hear or what will make themselves look good.
I am not concerned here with making you think that I am great – even if I am, who cares? I doubt you do. So we will not waste any time on it.
Nor am I concerned with amusing you and helping you to pass the time – we already have television for that.
The only way anything I write will have any long-lasting value and help anyone is if I am true and real. Life, as I am sure you know by now, already has enough deceitful little games. You do not need me to add another. Your so-called friends are already hard at work on that one.
I agree with Orwell, James Baldwin and Thucydides that a writer’s first duty is to the truth, however uncomfortable it may be.
Write for the ages
I know this one makes me sound like a self-important asshole, but it is an excellent rule for anyone to follow. Including you. I got the idea from Thucydides and Christopher Hitchens, two writers that I greatly admire. Both were less concerned with the readers of their own times than with those who might read them a hundred years later.
So I write not so much for 2006 as for 2506. Especially since my readership in 2006 is somewhere around one, whereas in 2506 I at least have an off chance of having a readership in the thousands. So I will take the long view.
Keep what you write to less than a thousand words
As a reader on the web, I know that anything over a thousand words is hard to read. I wish I knew why, but so it is.
If a subject requires more than a thousand words, as some will, then find some way to structure it into parts of less than a thousand words each.
Avoid numbers and measures
As I know from reading material written in other times or other countries where the money and measurements are different, this makes the writing less clear, not more clear. To you as a writer it seems like you are adding more detail and more facts — generally a good thing — but for most readers it is a dead loss. Do you know how much a hundred yen is? Do you know how far fifty feet is? You see what I mean?