A 12-point manifesto for the writing life.

1. A writer writes. Period.

2. A writer reads. Capaciously.

3. A writer distills experience, sense, image, sensation, life into words.

4. A writer rejoices in a well-turned phrase, an apt metaphor, an evocative image—even if she didn’t write it.

5. A writer delights in words for their own sake.

6. A writer collects words, for they are the tools of his trade, and he can never have too many.

7. A writer is both a master of words and mastered by them. She strives to maintain the delicate balance between mastery and humility, service and skill.

8. A writer studies masters of the written word—both old masters and new ones.

9. A writer recognizes literary excellence and is therefore capable of judging his own work.

10. A writer focuses on the work itself—not on its reception. She writes not for accolades or approval or acceptance, but simply because she must.

11. A writer refuses to use words for his own ends. Instead, he submits himself to the work of words and serves that work to the best of his ability, which is always increasing because…

12. A writer practices her craft. In other words…

1. A writer writes.

Photo by H. Armstrong Roberts, 1925.