67 Rules for All Writers to Live By

  1. Don’t waste your readers’ time
  2. Writing a book is like describing a building. Look at the first brick and write all about it. Repeat this process for every brick.
  3. When you are starting out, consistency beats quantity. Find a schedule which works for you and stick to it. Slow momentum is better than no momentum.
  4. Write something every single day. Do not take weekends off.
  5. Die every single day. It doesn’t matter what you wrote yesterday. It doesn’t matter what you will write tomorrow.
  6. Be raw every single day. The more transparent you can be, the better your message.
  7. Do stream-of-consciousness writing every single day for at least 10 minutes. (Do nothing with this work. It’s the equivalent of stretching)
  8. Enjoy your obscurity. It is an opportunity to find your voice while nobody cares about you.
  9. Everyone who is anyone started where you are now.
  10. When the excitement wears off (and it will), keep going. There is a reward on the other side of that valley
  11. Writing even 100 words is progress.
  12. Writing even 10 words is progress.
  13. Checking notifications, however, is NOT progress. Turn off anything you get from Twitter, Medium, Wordpress, Facebook, or Quora.
  14. If you don’t want to learn about SEO — write as many posts as possible on the same general topic. Link them to each other as often as possible. Have other people link to them as often as possible.
  15. (By the way, until you have written 100 posts, don’t even think about SEO.)
  16. Your website is just a resumé. The majority of your content can live elsewhere (like here on Medium)
  17. Ultimately, every word you write down will be obsolete. The ideas you leave in other people will not.
  18. Don’t check your statistics at all until you have at least 5,000 readers.
  19. Even at that point, don’t check them more than once a week.
  20. Speaking of statistics, most of the “little tweaks” to improve them don’t matter unless you have tons of readers.
  21. And people who constantly TELL you about the little tweaks like how a post does at 8 AM on Thursday vs. 6 PM on Monday are typically selling you statistics services.
  22. Use the free time you get from not checking your statistics to write more
  23. Which writing software you use matters less than zero. Anything which allows you to make letters into words is fair game.
  24. Carve out designated no-screen time often. Your hands and eyes give you different ideas than your computer.
  25. Movement is magic. When you are stuck, walk away from your work, take 3 laps around the building, then come back.
  26. It’s fine to watch television. You can get new ideas there. Don’t let anyone guilt you into thinking otherwise
  27. Learn how to write a good bio. Nobody will tell your story better than you will.
  28. You inner editor is a nag — put it to bed until the time is right.
  29. When the trolls are silent, enjoy it
  30. When the trolls get loud (opinions), ignore them
  31. When the trolls are wrong (facts), correct them
  32. You can set a business up around your art. Just don’t do it the other way around.
  33. Respect your audience enough to edit your work. (remember rule #1?)
  34. Use HALF the words you think you need to. (again, rule #1)
  35. Never, ever, ever, ever edit your work as you go.
  36. Feel free to pursue a book deal. Advances still happen. A friend of mine recently locked down one for $200,000 dollars.
  37. BUT that guy has over 100,000 email subscribers. You have to choose yourself before anyone else chooses you.
  38. Don’t not be afraid to self-publish. There is much less stigma (and more money) around it now.
  39. Operate as if publishing your book is inevitable. The only question is which label will be on the cover.
  40. Make a deadline for your book launch. If you don’t have a publisher by then, go it alone.
  41. Don’t write a book from scratch. Almost no book exists exclusively between the covers. Take your best stuff from your blog and start there.
  42. When you finish your book, spend AT least 2 weeks away from it before the first rounds of edits.
  43. Create a memorable structure around your book (because of rule #1). Here are some options:
  44. Use an acronym (Think Tim Ferriss’s “DEAL” in 4HWW, or any of the books from the Heath Brothers)
  45. Use an alliteration (My book uses “Discovery, Discipline, and Destiny”)
  46. Use the journey analogy (Use Jon Acuff’s START as an example)
  47. Use a numbered structure (at the very least, use “Part 1, Part 2, Part 3")
  48. Even if you even have a little bit of money, outsource things in this order:
  49. Outsource proofreading — you don’t want to spend hours looking for where you may have written “then” instead of “than.”
  50. Outsource cover design — generally the more money you can spend, the better it gets (don’t forget to ask your designer to format one cover for audio book dimensions)
  51. Outsource content review — if you have even one beta reader, you get double the insight you could possibly pull from yourself
  52. Outsource kindle formatting — it’s too cheap to do it yourself.
  53. Outsource narration for the audio book (maybe) — Recording takes a long time, and editing probably takes 3 times longer (if you already know how). The “maybe” is not necessarily a stipulation of money, but preference. Does it matter if readers hear *your* voice?
  54. You have permission to be a freak (we all are)
  55. You have permission to be terrible at first (we all are)
  56. You have permission to be clumsy (we all are)
  57. You have permission to copy other people’s voices until you find you own (we all do)
  58. You have permission to sell us what you wrote (we all have that right).
  59. You do NOT have permission to insult yourself
  60. You do NOT have permission to sit in writers block
  61. You do NOT have permission to do nothing
  62. You do NOT have permission to give up.
  63. You do NOT have permission to let comparison destroy you
  64. You can deal with doubt, teasing, fear and insecurity. But do not step into THE CAGE.
  65. Write about your experiences. They are the one thing you have which nobody else does.
  66. Someone can be half the writer you are and if they are twice as good a marketer, they will get more attention than you. Devote yourself to the craft anyway. (see rule #1)
  67. You only need one person to believe in your work. That would be you.