Three Rules for Writing a Novel

Somerset Maugham's three rules for writing the novel

With all respect to Mr. Maugham, here are three rules that have helped me:

1). READ Read everything: novels, poetry, the back of the cereal box. It’s all nutrition. Beautiful sentences, breathtaking metaphors, perfect words—these things help build voice and style: a writer’s muscle and bone.

2). WRITE If you want to be a writer, you have to write. (Which is simple and obvious. And hard.) Wishing and thinking and planning and talking (all of which I’m constantly guilty of) don’t count.

3). REVISE No one gets it right the first time. If you’re struggling, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer; it means you’re not willing to accept bad writing. Keep shaping, changing, adding, cutting, polishing until that diamond you’ve carried in your heart shines.

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