"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Unwritten Rules of Writing-4 Things You Should Know!

When it comes to the writing life, advice abounds.
To illustrate my point, a recent Google search of the term “writing advice” produced over 800,000 entries.

There’s no disputing that some of what’s available is enriching and inspiring for writers of all levels and genres. Between books and online resources, there’s a wealth of wisdom to be had.

Still, it’s the “unwritten rules” that can keep you out of the game. In this business, ignorance is not bliss. What you don’t know can indeed hurt you.

With this in mind, here are four (undisclosed) cardinal rules about the writing life.

1. A contract is not necessarily “gospel”.
How many times have you heard, “Get it in writing?” In theory, contractual agreements serve to protect all parties involved and outline in black and white conditions, payment terms to be honored, and designated due dates.
Expecting payment on the 15th of each month? Don’t be surprised if on the 20th, when you make a follow-up call to the A.P. department of your favorite publication, you’re told, “The check is in the mail.” In writing, as in life, “stuff happens.”

2. Talent is only part of the “success equation”.
If you thought you left politics behind when you left corporate America, think again. Editors, like bosses, have “favorites”. And though personal relationships and alliances should not compromise their judgment, sometimes their “pen pals“ get better assignments or more of them. Or they may be privy to “inside info.” Knowing this, you have two choices in times ahead: deal with it, or become one of them.

3. No matter how much advice you get, some things you’ll have to experience first-hand before you actually “get it“ and appreciate it.
Things like sacrifice and perseverance. It’s kinda’ like parenting. As I reflect on my many years as a scribe, in fact, the words of Charles Dickens come to mind, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”

4. To stay grounded and stay in the black, you must learn to be your own worst critic and your biggest fan. It provides an important balance.
Confidence is needed to be able to withstand repeated rejection and scrutiny. While objectivity is needed to receive fewer rejections and to operate from a position of strength.

Equipped with these insider’s tips, you’ll be on the fast track to success, (minus the stress).

Any of these rules resonate with you?


  1. Yes, they all resonate with me! I think these tips need to stay ever before our eyes as an encouragement and a means to keep a good perspective. Had to chuckle at #3 - once I became a mom, I often told my Mom just how much I appreciated her. I knew her job was a challenging one, but I had no idea...:)

    Good post, thanks, Jennifer!

  2. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 20, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    Hi Karen,

    Thanks for weighing in and starting us off. Proper perspective is indeed important. And moms definitely deserve appreciation for all they do. No argument here. :-)

  3. Love that line, "your own worst critic and biggest fan'. Amen!

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 20, 2012 at 7:02 PM

      Thanks, Linda. Love that you took the time to let me know. :-)

  4. Ha, you always hit the nail on the head, Jennifer. Indeed, all of these points resonate with me. The first three remind me of good ol' human nature: Number one reminds me that not everybody sticks to the letter of a contract. (Although too much straying may equal a breach, and hopefully everybody is insisting that in-case-of-breach provisions be included in their written contracts.)

    Tip number two reminds me that people like to work with people they like to be around. Tip three brings to mind the adage of really understanding why people do what they do once you've "walked a mile in their shoes."

    Number four resonated with me the most. I am my own worst critic, but not always my own biggest fan. Balance is key to most things in life and I appreciate you reminding us that we have to be our own biggest cheerleaders. If we don't completely buy what we're selling, how can we expect others to, right? ;-)

    Smart tips!

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 20, 2012 at 7:07 PM


      What's up, girlfriend? :-) You make a good point about the "in-case-of-breach" provision. Thanks for putting it out there.

      Balance in all things, even the good book says so.

      Good to hear from you again. Keep the faith.

  5. Jen, I only add this because I think you once mentioned watching American Idol??

    In any event, I am a fan of the show and certain words of encouragement Jennifer Lopez recently gave to a contestant touch upon your tip number four. When one of the contestants was on stage and steadily faltering, she stopped the contestant and gave the following supportive boost: "You have to think that you deserve to be here." She said it in her usual no-nonsense but compassionate way, which I heart about her. Thought I'd share in case you caught that episode! :-)

  6. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 21, 2012 at 6:15 AM


    I am indeed a fan! In previous seasons, I rarely missed an episode.
    But a busy schedule (and the frustration of seeing some of my favorites "booted off" prematurely and unfairly), has caused me to be less of an "Idol" enthusiast.

    Nonetheless, believing in one's ability is half the battle. Whether it's for a freelance career or a singing contract.
    But, it should also be realistically based. :-)

    On a final note, from what I can tell, it seems that this season of Idol will be a winner! Lots of talented contestants this year.

    Thanks for sharing this. :-)

  7. Thanks Jennifer, those are interesting rules,

    I do think that - especially when starting out with little first hand experience - it can help to just develope special new way's of looking at things. (as I wrote about on the page about - Writing Success - on my Blog) Just creating Special Viewpoints that can help to see things as a Success.

    Because I do think that sometimes it's possible to turn Trash into a Trasure all depending on the way you look at it. I do think that developing way's of looking at things is also something that writing is all about.

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 21, 2012 at 6:24 AM

      Hi Hp van Duuren,

      You bring up a good point. Writing is also about developing new ways of looking at things.

      Thanks so much for adding to the discussion today.

  8. Talent is only part of the equation. And it is very true that it's not what you know; it's who you know. And like you said, if you're not one of the favorites, your assignments will reflect that.

  9. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 3, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    Thanks for adding to the mix here, Marcie.