Here are a few that struck me:
Do not place a photograph of your favourite author on your desk, especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide. (Roddy Doyle #1)
The first 12 years are the worst. (Anne Enright #1)
The two most depressing words in the English language are "literary fiction" [pipped to the post by 'political theatre' in my view]. (David Hare #1)
Unless you are writing something very avant-garde – all gnarled, snarled and "obscure" – be alert for possibilities of paragraphing. (Joyce Carol Oates #5)
You know that sickening feeling of inadequacy and over-exposure you feel when you look upon your own empurpled prose? Relax into the awareness that this ghastly sensation will never, ever leave you, no matter how successful and publicly lauded you become. It is intrinsic to the real business of writing and should be cherished. (Will Self #5)
Are you serious about this? Then get an accountant [you'll be doing extraordinarily well to need one, at least for the first few years]. (Hilary Mantel #4)
Stay in your mental pyjamas all day. (Colm Tóibin #3)
My main rule is to say no to things like this, which tempt me away from my proper work. (Philip Pullman)
You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You've been backstage. You've seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a romantic relationship, unless you want to break up. (Margaret Atwood #8) [Usefully twinned with...
...this:] Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. (Neil Gaiman #5)But a few tips came up again and again:
Read a lot.
Listen to what you've written.
Edit it and cut repeatedly and ruthlessly.
Write every day.The last really rang a bell. In my experience, if you write every day (as I do for this blog) you can find yourself almost stumbling into fiction (at a loose end and almost absent-mindedly I wrote a novel over the Christmas period).
I'd noted the wisdom of this advice before, so much so that I bookmarked where I first read it. From a Q&A with journalist and author Laura Miller:
11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
Write every day. That way, the book you’re working on is never out of your awareness for long. It will always be percolating in the back of your mind, growing on its own. No part of writing is as hard as getting the engine warmed up, so try not to let it cool down.I like that: writing is like pottering around in an old banger that can only be jump-started or bumped.
Reading through these rules one more time, I realise there's an obvious omission. And it may really be the sine qua non: 'somehow, anyhow, find time to dedicate to writing'. Tricky one that for most people. For what it's worth, not everyone can experience my good fortune...