My friend Eleina called me one morning at 8am to share Julia Alvarez’s Ten Writing Commandments. This led us to a four-hour convo/therapy session that cured my writer’s/editor’s block. I hope these commandments or a good friend can help you with yours.
TEN OF MY WRITING COMMANDMENTS
I. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.
II. The obligation of the artist is not to solve the problem but to state the problem correctly.
III. Do not be afraid!
–ANGELS APPEARING TO SHEPERDS TENDING THEIR FLOCKS BY NIGHT
IV. If you bring forth what is inside you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is inside you, what is inside you will destroy you.
–ST. THOMAS, GNOSTIC GOSPELS
V. Poetry presents the thing in order to convey the feeling. It should be precise about the thing and reticent about the feeling.
VI. One must write a poem the way one rules an empire, the way one cooks a small fish.
VII. El papel lo aguanta todo. (Paper holds everything.)
VIII. You must change your life.
–RAINER MARIA RILKE
IX. The function of freedom is to free someone else.
X. If you want to be a writer, than write. Write every day!
Excerpted from Something to Declare Copyright (c) 1998 Julia Alvarez. Reprinted by permission of Algonquin.