Ollantaytombo Fortress, the Sacred Valley, Peru In March I was very lucky. I traveled to Peru and explored the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. I like to bring travel momentos back to people I love. I couldn’t bring you a vicuna (see photo below) or a 30 ton Inca boulder, but I can share with you, fellow writer, the traditional Inca greeting. I hope it helps you to stay on the writing path as much as it is helping me.
Don’t steal. Ama sua. We know we shouldn’t take a waitress’s tip off the table or walk out of the grocery store with an unpaid-for Hersey bar in our pocket. But there are ways a writer can steal without touching any material object. The two P’s of stealing: Plagiarizing, claiming someone else’s work as one’s own, is stealing. It’s easy to plagiarize, to copy a paragraph from one website, forget where it came from, paste it into your own writing. Be careful. Give the other writer credit. Plagiarizing is bad form and bad for your soul.
Procrastinating, putting off what you know you need to do (write, research, market). Procrastinating steals time from you and everyone else. Next time you spend an hour of your dedicated writing time watching “Best Funny and Cute Cat Videos of 2013,” remember that you just stole 60 minutes from your given bank of time. You won’t get that hour back. You are a writer. Procrastinating is not good for your psyche.
Don’t lie. Ama llulla. We are taught that we should tell the obvious truths. If you broke the sugar bowl, drank the last sip of milk and put the empty carton back in the refrigerator, ‘fess up.
But for a writer there is another layer of lying.
A writer who exaggerates facts to prove a point is lying. (“100% of the people polled were against a school tax” serves as a lie if only one person was polled)
Writers who consciously make facts up because they are too lazy (see Rule Three) to do their research are lying. If you are writing about a demonstration, check out how many people showed up. There is a big difference between 2500 and 25,000.
A writer who uses his persuasive writing ability to lead others astray is lying. For instance, creating the negative mage of “Welfare queens” to get people to vote against needed social programs is a form of lying.
If you say you are going to do something (write that book, send out that article, do that editing) and don’t follow through, you are lying to yourself and to others.
Lying is not good for your writer’s soul or the community in which you live and work.
Don’t be lazy. Ama quella. We all have a different sense of lazy. An unmown lawn is to one person a natural habitat for native species, for a neighbor its a lazy person’s vermin-infested eyesore. Are you lazy because you leave dishes in the kitchen sink? Is an early riser any less lazy than a late sleeper?
But for a writer, not being lazy means to religiously follow the first two rules. Don’t lie. Don’t steal. Get up and get you work done. Turn on your computer. Open that file. Get out your notebook. Do your research. Move your pen across a blank piece of paper.
Do what you said you were going to do.
And don’t forget that to be the best writer:
Don’t lie. Don’t steal. Don’t be lazy.(And as you practice those, also remember to love and to forgive.)
A vicuna came to visit a healing ceremony near Chinchera
Important stonework in Machu Picchu.