Friday, June 14, 2019

Writing: A Writer's Oath?

When I received my MD degree, we didn't take the Hippocratic Oath. Even as far back as that time, we didn't  use that particular oath. We didn't swear by a number of pagan gods "not to cut for the stone" and similar things. Rather, what we took was a doctor's oath--one that bound us, for example, to "respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps we walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is ours with those who are to follow." There were other things that we committed ourselves to--things like putting the patient's welfare first, and being honest in our dealings. I daresay that none of us recalls the exact words of that oath, but all--at least most--of us tried to practice by those principles.

Should writers commit themselves to a similar oath? I was curious, so I did what most of us have learned to do: a Google search. And I found that Gail Carson Levine penned a simple oath for writers, one that I think bears passing on. Simply put, she commits to 1. writing as often and as much as possible, 2. respecting herself as a writer, and 3. nurturing the writing of others. That's it. In thinking the situation through, I'm not certain what--if anything--I'd add. What about you?

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6 comments:

Priscilla Bettis said...

I'd say be a reader, too!

Richard Mabry said...

Priscilla, good addition.

Patricia Bradley said...

I might add that writing is a gift from God and if you've been given that gift, not using it is like saying no to His gift.

Richard Mabry said...

Profound, and very applicable, Patricia.

mikesurovik said...

I'd say having some sort of principles, goals or an ethos behind your writing should be important. You want to write stuff that benefits the reader in some way (even if it's just pure enjoyment) and avoid going down the path of marketable pablum that'll just waste people's time and cognitive reserve. Especially avoid sensational, alarmist works that attract readers but damage discourse. So maybe:
-have something valuable to say
-avoid saying anything you don't believe in just because you think it'll sell

Richard Mabry said...

Mike, excellent points, and I agree with them--especially not just writing for the market (which, unfortunately, still gets done and sells books.) Thanks for dropping by. Come back anytime.
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