Instead, they represent a consensus of me and my writing friends about the laws that should govern our chosen profession.
If we've missed anything obvious, feel free to add your own. Where this list is concerned, there's nothing magical about the number ten.
So, here we go:
1. Thou shalt not plagiarize. Never, ever, ever, ever take another writer's work and pass it off as your own. Just don't do it. I don't really believe in hell, but if it exists, I picture it as a really big after school detention room where students are forced to write endlessly on chalkboards, "It is wrong to steal the works of other writers."
2. Thou shalt not miss deadlines...without a damn good reason. Good reasons can include illness, personal crises like a death in the family, and major issues like a flooded house that must be dealt with ASAP. Sorry, a bad hair day just doesn't cut it.
3. Thou shalt not flame editors or clients, even if they really, really deserve it. If you've gotten critiques that make no sense or requests for edits that would weaken the entire piece, you know what I mean. There's certainly no law that says you can't disagree politely and explain your reasoning. But if your email starts out, "Dear Stupid, Moronic, Illiterate SOB," it's probably better not to hit the send button.
4. Thou shalt not forward annoying messages. These include urban legends that have been definitively debunked two decades ago to the cutest pictures from LOL Cats. Your friends are working and don't have time to read through them. Frankly, you probably don't have time, either.
5. Thou shalt use reputable resources. "Kayak Man" who blogs from his log cabin in central Nebraska probably isn't an expert on cancer treatments. The Mayo Clinic, however, is full of experts ready to share their knowledge with you.
6. Thou shalt demand a fair price for they work. This has nothing to do with how price undercutting puts a pinch on every writer. The simple reason for this Commandment is self-respect. I've written for the content mills, and although I learned a lot, it was really hard to think of myself as a writer when I spent all day coming up with content about folding chairs for less than a penny a word.
7. Thou shalt not work without a contract. Sure, you can have a contract and still get taken to the cleaners, but if you decide to sue for the money you're owed, that neat little piece of paper makes it so much easier.
8. Thou shalt be prompt about invoicing and collecting payments. Invoice as soon as possible after an assignment is finished, and follow up with the client if payment doesn't arrive on schedule. After all, you did the work and you deserve the reward.
9. Thou shalt make time for personal projects you enjoy. All work and no play can take the joy out of writing. Set aside at least a few hours a week to write something you love like fiction, poetry, essays, or stories for kids.
10. Thou shalt take breaks throughout the day. Otherwise you'll end up with stiff joints, sore wrists and arms, and a healthy case of exhaustion and depression as well. Try to get up every hour or so to do some stretches, start a load of wash, return phone calls (standing up), or just dance around your apartment and sing "Defying Gravity" from Wicked. Or am I the only one who does that?
What did I miss? What are your most important writing commandments?