On my most recent trip to the Squamish library, I carted away another pile of books on various topics including Erica Jong's Seducing the Demon: Writing for my Life. In the introduction, she says she started it "as a book of advice to fledgling writers. Why? Probably because I was terrified of writing my next novel."
Jong writes, "The first draft of the writing book contained such things as this list, Twenty-one Rules for Writers:
1. Have faith.
2. Dare to dream.
3. Take your mind off publication.
4. Write for joy.
5. Get the reader to turn the page.
6. Forget politics (let your real politics shine through).
7. Forget intellect.
8. Forget ego.
9. Be a beginner.
10. Accept change.
11. Don't think your mind needs altering.
12. Don't expect approval for telling the truth.
13. Use everything.
14. Remember that writing is dangerous if it's any good.
15. Let sex (the body, the physical world) in!
16. Forget critics.
17. Tell your truth, not the world's.
18. Remember to be earthbound.
19. Remember to be wild!
20. Write for the child (in yourself and in others).
21. There are no rules.
"Actually this was all advice to myself when I was petrified about putting one word on the page," according to Jong.
I love her list, particularly rule No. 13, and not just because that's my lucky number, and might have to post a copy of this list above my writing desk.