DO write. That means putting words together to form sentences that you actually hope other human beings will one day read. (For the reason an explanation is necessary, see below.)
DON'T spend more than three months "researching" or "brainstorming" or "outlining" or "creating character bios" for your novel. All this might -- might -- count as work on your book, but it's not writing. (See above.)
DON'T spend too much time reading about how to write. The best way to learn to write is to write. (See above again.)
DO keep reading this list. I didn't mean for you to stop reading my writing advice.
DON'T complain to me if you think that "Dos and Don'ts" should be "Do's and Don't's." That looks way weird to me.
DO the hustle. Really. Loosen up those hips. It's good for you.
DON'T be discouraged because something you've written didn't turn out as well you would have liked. Because the next bit of wisdom is that you...
DO rewrite. But on the other hand...
DON'T feel too bad about walking away from an idea that isn't working for you. Even the best writers abandon projects from time to time. It sucks, I hate it, but sometimes it's the thing to do.
DO try to learn something from such setbacks. For instance: "Maybe writing a second person, present tense novel about a dead bumble bee slowly rotting in the grill of a VW Rabbit wasn't such a good idea."
DON'T be downhearted if you happen to be writing a second person, present tense novel about a dead bumble bee slowly rotting in the grill of a VW Rabbit. I wasn't saying it can't be done. In fact, I bet you're just the writer to pull it off. You go, girl (or guy)!
DO go. No matter what you're writing.
DON'T be confused by "DO go." I just mean you should throw yourself into your work with as much confidence as you can muster. All the same...
DO get feedback on your writing. Yet...
DON'T try to treat every comment as equally valid. That way madness lies. "Wait a second...Aunt Elsa said she stopped reading when she got to the part about the bee's left wing falling off, but that was Uncle Frank's favorite scene in the book! ARRRRRRRGH!!!"
DON'T be discouraged -- or even surprised -- if some people hate your babies. Baby-haters are everywhere, actually. You'll have to get used to them sooner or later.
DO be prepared for a lot of indifference.
DON'T let it spread to you. Enthusiasm can be contagious, too. Start an epidemic!
DO remember to cover your mouth when you sneeze. (I know that doesn't have anything to do with writing. All that contagion talk just got me thinking about cold and flu season.)
DON'T take any wooden nickels. Unless you collect them, in which case you should graciously accept any that come your way.
DO aim high. Start with the biggest agents, the biggest publishers, the biggest magazines, the biggest websites. If you're going to get rejected, you might as well get rejected by the best!
DON'T become bitter if things don't immediately go your way. Things don't immediately go anyone's way.
DO buy me a drink sometime if things do immediately go your way. You are one lucky S.(or D.)O.B. Spread the good juju around.
On second thought, DO squeeze the Charmin. Break rules. Push boundaries. Grope toilet paper. Whatever it takes to find a fresh new approach to your chosen genre.
DON'T be a stranger. By which I mean...
DO try to build an audience using social media. Although...
DON'T forget that you're a writer, not a tweeter. If you're spending more time doing online consumer outreach (i.e., blowing hours every day on Kindle Boards), you should think about downloading Freedom.
DON'T let the bedbugs bite.
DO follow your muse. But...
DON'T forget that your work needs an audience. If your muse is whispering to you about dead bees, you'll either have to (A) get a new muse or (B) resign yourself to a rank somewhere north of 1,000,000 when your e-book hits Amazon.
DO you really want to hurt me? Because you will if you give up. But most of all...
DON'T stop believin'. (And no -- I DON'T have to add a link to that song. You hear it in your head already, don't you?)
Oh, and one more: DON'T count to see if there are really 50 Dos and Don'ts on this list. You've got better things to DO.