Ten rules

Last night I found myself, as usual, at twenty to ten, with increasing disengagement, marking an essay (/planning a lesson/ giving advice by email/ rewriting the website* delete as appropriate). Bedtime was coming up. I was knackered after a full day of teaching and I’d hurt my foot. 

Then I checked out the progress of my 100k in a 100 days cohort, and found myself inspired. I closed the essay, moved locations and hammered out 1200 words before bed. I just wrote, something which had been in my mind for a couple of days, something that is the beginning of a new story. It felt good. And it was 1200 words I certainly wouldn’t have managed, especially on the first day back teaching, without the challenge and the collegiality. 

Anyway, this morning it is back to marking, and the combination of my comments and some strict advice on the role of rhetorical questions which I gave to some postgraduate students yesterday, reminded me of this article in The Guardian. It’s a variety of writers’ responses to Elmore Leonard’s 10 rules of writing (of which number 5 is “Keep your exclamation points ­under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose”, which was the thing which reminded me). 

So: rule 1 for me: switch off the dayjob at some point. It will still be there in the morning. 


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