Colm Tóibín’s Rules For Writing

Colm Toibin

Colm Tóibín is an award-winning Irish novelist, playwright, journalist and critic. In other words, he clearly knows a thing or two about what it takes to be a writer. The central theme among his rules? Just do it.

Here are his top ten rules:

1 Finish everything you start.

2 Get on with it.

3 Stay in your mental pajamas all day.

4 Stop feeling sorry for yourself.

5 No alcohol, sex or drugs while you are working.

6 Work in the morning, a short break for lunch, work in the afternoon and then watch the six o’clock news and then go back to work until bed-time. Before bed, listen to Schubert, preferably some songs.

7 If you have to read, to cheer yourself up read biographies of writers who went insane.

8 On Saturdays, you can watch an old Bergman film, preferably Persona or Autumn Sonata.

9 No going to London.

10 No going anywhere else either.

Although Mr. Tóibín’s works focus primarily on the Irish experience, the process of creativity and the creation of personal identity (all serious matters) it’s clear he also has a great sense of humor. You can read his essays on his website or pick up Brooklyn: A Novel, Tóibín’s bestseller, which focuses on Eilis Lacey, an Irish girl who is forced to America where she has to recreate her life and discover her identity while living in (you guessed it) Brooklyn. A great choice for anyone who has felt the tug of being caught between two cultures, this book is a must.

Original Source of Rules: The Guardian

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5 Responses to Colm Tóibín’s Rules For Writing

  1. francis says:

    haha these are great. good tips

  2. Megan Krause says:

    hi there, i mean this as a general comment for your blog, not just this particular post, and so: I LOVE write in color. i just launched a (sparsely populated) blog that i’m tending to bit by bit… i’ll be thrilled if it emerges similar to yours. Happy Thursday 🙂

    • Thank you Megan. Write In Color started with one post. I didn’t know where it was going to go, but I was devoted to the idea of getting it somewhere. I’m so happy it resonates with you. Good luck with your blog! Remember — all it takes is one post after another and sparsely populated suddenly transforms into a hundred plus posts.

  3. Vardit says:

    great tips, indeed. However… Mr. Tóibín obviously does not have kids.

  4. Such a great list—I’ll have to consider posting my own version. It’s such fun finding these gems. Thanks for the chuckle.

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