Eve Ainsworth’s debut adult novel Duckling tells the story of a young woman called Lucy (a.k.a. Duckling) who keeps herself to herself on a towering housing estate. Lucy’s daily routines are interrupted when a new neighbour asks her to look after her little girl for a couple of hours – but doesn’t come back. Suddenly responsible for someone other than herself, Lucy has to learn to let the outside world in and reconnect with her own childhood self. Eve presents ten rules for keeping a writing life on an even keel.

1. Thou shall not fall foul to temptation

If you want to write a first draft quickly, try to be disciplined and not be swayed by the wonderful distractions that the internet, the fridge, or even staring into space can bring. Of course, there is time for these much needed ventures (and actually staring into space is great for plot development), but in order to get a story written you do need to keep yourself away from the things that distract you, sit yourself down, and make yourself write…

2. Thou shall write what you enjoy

This is particularly important for new writers. Try not to write ‘for market’ or to catch on to a trend. It’s really vital that you love what you are doing and that the work excites you and makes you want to carry on. The best writing is usually so because it comes from the heart and is something the author is passionate about.

3. Thou shall not neglect your back

Or wrists, or neck, or arms… You’ll thank me for this one. Invest in a decent chair and desk. Don’t be a fool like me and write on a laptop on the sofa, with your body twisted up like a Curly Wurly. If you are going to do a lot of writing, you need to look after your body, which means sitting correctly, taking breaks and considering joining up with that Yoga group you keep hearing about.

4. Thou shall not fear rejection

Rejection is a sad part of writing life, it goes hand in hand with writer’s block, dry eyes and an over-enthusiastic book collection. Even when you are published you will still be rejected – whether it be rejected by a competition, rejected by a reader, or rejected by a bookseller. These things, although tough, will make you a more resilient person I promise you. Also cake always helps.

Every little success should be celebrated and enjoyed – so whether that be a finished first draft, or a wonderful comment from a reader – enjoy it! Enjoy as much as you can.”

5. Thou shall not compare

Comparison is a wasted and damaging energy. Your writing journey is yours alone. Try to enjoy it as much as you can, and do not be disheartened if others appear to be doing better.  Some writers achieve overnight success and others are slow burners – that is what makes the industry so exciting and wonderful.

6. Thou shall celebrate the small successes

This is so vital. Every little success should be celebrated and enjoyed – so whether that be a finished first draft, or a wonderful comment from a reader – enjoy it! Enjoy as much as you can. And linked to this –

7. Thou shall celebrate the successes of others

Be the type of writer that supports and promotes others. Get yourself involved in the writing community. Writing can be a lonely and isolating activity – but writers, booksellers, librarians and bloggers are some of the most supportive and uplifting individuals out there. Become one of them!

8. Thou shall try to remain grateful

Writing is a wonderful and rewarding activity – whether it be for a hobby or for work, you should always try to remind yourself what it is you love about it. I know for me, it’s my outlet and without it I would be very out of sorts. I’m always grateful that writing can bring me so much pleasure. But –

9. Thou shall remember when to ask for help

If you do get stuck with your writing, there are plenty of people that can help you. Consider consulting a mentor or joining a writing group. Talk to other authors. We’ve all been there. Just take a short break, and importantly –

10. Thou shall be kind to yourself

Be this always. Life can be hard. Writing can be hard. Don’t ever be hard on yourself. Again, if in doubt – eat cake.


Eve Ainsworth is an award-winning, Carnegie-nominated author who has written for both middle grade and teen readers. She has vast experience working as a public speaker and creative workshop coordinator for schools, libraries and other events both nationally and internationally. She also is an experienced mentor and is very passionate about helping beginner writers from disadvantaged backgrounds. Eve was born and raised in Crawley, West Sussex, where she now lives with her husband and two children. Duckling is published by Penguin in paperback and eBook.
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