Three Rules


I remember reading “Rain” and looking around to see if someone was playing a joke on me. Had everyone but me read Somerset Maugham? And if they hadn’t, then why isn’t everyone talking about him? Then I found out he was dead. Then I proceeded to read everything he ever wrote, but mostly I fell in love with his short stories.

I think the caveat to the statement above is that everyone should come up with their own three rules for writing a novel. Mine come from Brad Meltzer and his Ted Talk about “Write Your Story, Change History”.

Dream Big

Write whatever story you want.

If you fell in love with “Lord Of The Rings” (and I don’t think the world if will ever tire of hobbits), then write your own.

If you read it and didn’t like it, write something better.

If you hated something you read, write something better.

If you let yourself dream big, you get out of the way of your story.

Work Hard

Write as often as you humanly can.

If your laptop is too slow, get a faster one. I suggest a Chromebook.

If you can’t afford a laptop, get a notebook. They sell them at the dollar store. Get several notebooks.

Find a pen you like and write with it. Can’t find a pen you like, use one you hate so you write fast and get it over with. Buy lots of them. Make sure one is always handy.

Bring your notebook everywhere. If not, carry napkins with you. Or anything you can write on that you can save for later.

Go to meetings at work five minutes early and jot down an idea or a character. Take it with you on a walk and write what you see or feel. Write on the park bench while your kids play at the park. Write at the gym between reps. Write after the gym when your mind is fresh and your body is charged.


Writing is hard work. Writing often makes it easier.

Don’t forget that you are working.

Track what you write. Know when you are ready to write a story. Start it, finish it, edit it, move on to the next. Repeat.

Be Humble

People will ask how you get up every morning and write for thirty minutes before going to work.

People will ask where you get your ideas.

People will tell you they have a story to tell, if only they had the time to write it down.

People will ask you to write their story for them.

You will be supportive because you will remember the number of times you wanted someone to listen to you when you wanted to talk and no one was there.

You will be grateful of what you have and for the people that suffer your crazy habits. Without them, you would not be able to do what you do.

You will remember you don’t work hard everyday and sometimes you shrink back from your overwhelming dreams. You will remember that the people around you give you the strength to get back at it.

You will remember that everyone who wants anything is dreaming big and working hard just like you.

You will remember that everyone who dreams big and works hard has a story to be listened to.

Your words have weight and can crush those who hear them.


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