Revise, revise, revise.
I agree with ceelizabeth... Reading your work out loud is crucial. Our eyes and ears treat language so differently. But apart from that, I would have to say that my one rule is honesty. Everything I write, whether it's fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, has to come from an honest and authentic place. The characters have to be honest, the voice has to be honest, and the intent has to be honest.... even if that means taking the story/poem/essay to a place that I'd rather not go.
I stress the importance of experience. Above writing every day or re writing, my one rule is to experience the life around me to the fullest. You can't write well if you don't have life experience, in my opinion.
I make it a point to write at least an hour a day. Just keep it consistent. Like exercising, if you put it off for one day, it turns into two, and then you find you've been paying forty dollars a month for a gym membership you don't even use. Or, even worse, procrastinating can lead to that novel you've always wanted to finish never coming to completion. Write at least an hour. Everyday. No excuses. Although, I do strongly agree with @avvidreeder, you do have to get out and do life as much as you can. If you're stuck starring at a screen or paper all day you're missing all sorts of places inspiration could be coming from. Rule #1 - Write everyday. Rule #2 - After writing timer has gone off, go outside.
Mine would be to never stop learning.
My No. 1 rule has to do with revisions. After a rewrite or even a section of revision, I force myself to not look at it for at least 48 hours. I work on something else during that time or else catch up on my pile of chores, and usually, I will see my work more clearly when I dive back into it.
Henry Miller, in his eleven commandments for writers, once said "cement a little every day" and "even when you cannot create, you can work." They seem to be two different shades of the same idea. Work a little every day. Do something. Anything. That's my one rule. Seth
To take a walk/run and listen to music every day. That's when I have my best ideas, always.
I have more than one project on the go. Then if I get stuck on one, I switch to another!
Always revise. If you think its already good enough, remember what the last draft you said that about was like.
I am not allowed to give up writing, ever.
My one rule of writing is that, if my character has a secret, I have to write a scene where that secret is revealed. Before writing anything to do with the story, before doing anything else. This helps me to get the scene out of my head, because I love the drama of an unfolded secret. Once it's out. I can keep that scene in a folder (which I will never use) and write the rest of the story out without feeling antsy. Chances are, when I finally get to that moment, the original was so terrible and out of place that it is no longer relevant. I also tend to write stories where the real stories is what happened before the beginning of this story. So I'll start and then sketch out scene that lead up to it and I find that the telling of the tale (the prequel) is just as exciting as the original. And many times the prequel ends up as the first story.
This is super interesting! I think if I had one rule it would be to cut down on my words. Take whatever I've written, and cut the unnecessary stuff. I find that it really helps the final product, no matter how much I may not like the process.
My one rule is "revise later." It's always easier to revise a document that's been filled up with words than it is to revise an empty document or a story that's not complete.
I avoid adverbs like the plague. They don't do anything for my writing and tend to overpopulate the text when I cave to their ease of use. That's not to say I don't use adverbs at all, but I like to keep them few and far between.
I like Stephen King's On Writing book and to read a lot and write a lot. Keep reading to fuel your writing.
One good rule to use is to finish any story that you start so that way understand how to write a story from beginning to the end.
Akaless, I see myself in your rule! I also like Macbower´s word-cutting. My rule is tell the truth. Writing is like taking a picture--it isn´t the subject (people skiing down a mountain, for instance), but it is a way to capture the subject so that others can experience it. This rule keeps me from using unqualified superlatives "It was the fastest..." It also checks me when I want to talk authoritatively about something when I´m not an expert. It makes me pay attention to detail so that I can accurately relay the subject.
My rule is to write what you enjoy. Write something you'd read. If you aren't enjoying the process, then something's wrong with your story. If you aren't dying to write the climax or some other major point, your reader won't be excited to get to that point you're building up. I write for myself, because if I try to write for others, I won't write anything worth anything.
My one rule I always stick to is to be proud of what I produce, and keep it in my own voice. No matter what kind of edits or advice I’m given, I always want the poem to still be my own, and I always want to feel accomplished in my writing.