The Rules of Writingland: How to Survive a Writing-Infested World

Good luck surviving the infestation.Writingland* is a lot like Zombieland. It’s true. Writers who inhabit Writingland kill their writing only to have it resurrect, which may or may not be a bad thing. It’s all a matter of perspective. Regardless of that perspective, Writingland is no walk in the park. It’s a kill or be killed world. The writers who live in that world do so because they have embraced some rules, most of which are derived from the rules of Zombieland.

The Rules of Writingland:

  1. Cardio. If you plan to live for any length of time in Writingland, you have to prepare adequately. You have to be able to kill your writing or, at the very least, to outrun it. Don’t let it kill you.
  2. Double tap. If it becomes necessary to kill your writing, make sure that it’s dead. Always double tap.
  3. Beware of bathrooms (and other small rooms). Never write yourself into the proverbial corner. Leave room for experimentation and allow the writing to go where it needs to go.
  4. Check the backseat. Check your work area before settling in to write. Make sure it’s clear of zombies and any other distractions.
  5. Wear seatbelts. The writing life is a bumpy ride. It’s best to buckle up.
  6. Cast iron skillet. A skillet comes in handy when your writing is acting like a dunce. Clobber it into submission. See rule #2.
  7. Travel light. Don’t get too attached to your writing. You’re going to have to kill it at some point.
  8. Get a kick-ass partner. If you can’t bring yourself to kill your writing, find a kick-ass partner who will do the dirty work for you.
  9. Bounty paper towels. Writing is messy, especially if your first or second shot isn’t a clean one. Clean up your mess.
  10. Bowling balls. Bowling balls are to be used in emergency situations only. If you think you can save some part of your writing, do not use a bowling ball. It only decimates the writing and leaves you with nothing but incomprehensible tatters.
  11. Don’t (or do) be a hero. Some writing isn’t salvageable or worth saving. Learn when to be and not to be a hero.
  12. Limber up. Haven’t written in awhile? Stretch those writing muscles before you start the actual labor of writing.
  13. Avoid strip clubs. Impossible. Every time you hit publish, you put your writing on display. Some people will like it. Some won’t. Deal with it.
  14. When in doubt, know your way out. You’re going to get stuck in a draft. Plan an escape route.
  15. The buddy system. It’s best to travel in pairs. Your buddy probably will not be your kick-ass partner. Reference rule #8.
  16. Enjoy the little things. Do not let your writing consume you. Remember to enjoy the little things.
  17. Swiss Army knife. Clobbering your writing doesn’t always work. Sometimes, you have to hack away at it until you find something durable, something worth saving.
  18. Hygiene. Be clean and presentable at all times, even if your writing isn’t.
  19. Always have backup. Buddy systems fail. Kick-ass partners disappear. Killing utensils may not be readily available. Develop a back-up plan.
  20. Ziploc bags (from a deleted scene in Zombieland). You’re going to stumble upon other ideas while writing or killing your writing. Save those ideas.

Which rule is your favorite? What rules would you add to the list?

*Originally published October 31, 2011

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