Confucian Virtues

If you follow the principles of Ren, Li, Yi, Xiao and Xin then you will become a Junzi – and who doesn’t want to become a Junzi!

This bloke called Confucius made these guidelines up, a few thousand years ago, and they became very popular – particularly in the Eastern part of the world. That’s east of The West, just in case you wanted to visit, and you needed directions.

See if you can guess the general principles that Confucius proposed, by checking out this specically derived advice to writers:

  • Ren. Keep your pencils sharp, your ink well full, your antivirus programme up to date, your autosave enabled, your computer keyboard free from fizzy pop and your mouse de-fluffed.
  • Li. Get up early in the morning and write a few pages before the routine matters of the day kick in. Use your time wisely so that instead of reading endless reams of pulp fiction and setting yourself the goal of watching every single episode of Star Trek – including all the new generations and spin-offs before the end of this year, you get some writing done instead. Assign priority to creativity rather than consumptivity.
  • Yi. Make sure that you get your friends to buy into the idea of you spending time writing – don’t just abandon them without a word of explanation. Accept at least one invitation to a party per month instead of turning down all the multitude of requests for your presence at social gatherings. Speak in full sentences when someone talks to you instead of merely grunting – even if they are interrupting your flow.
  • Xiao. Do all of the above when it comes to your family too. Family are (hopefully) going to be there when your book is finished, published, marketed, sold and forgotten. It therefore rather stands to reason that you should be nice to them while you are engaged with your book, so that you actually have a family life to return to when you have finished. Alienating your family is rather like sawing the legs off of the stool you are sitting on.
  • Xin. If you tell people that you are going to the loo, don’t be sat there (on the side of the bath) starting a new chapter of your latest book on your smartphone. When you say that you’re popping down the shops and you’ll be back in a bit, don’t sneak the laptop out of the house and start doing the final edit on your most recent book whilst sat on the kerbside, or if you do – at least come back with a loaf of bread and a carton of milk. Should you inform your life-partner that you’re going out to get drunk, but instead go to the local library to use their computer to send a copy of your newly completed epic to your editor, at least have the courtesy to knock down the umbrella-stand and fall down the stairs when you return.

If you do all these things, then you will be an exemplary writer.

If all writers followed these principles then there would be no crime, the streets would be paved with gold, and ambrosia would flow freely from the taps of every household kitchen; which would make washing the pots quite a chore, but hey – you can’t have everything.
Okay, now you tell me – was Confucius a clever guy, or what!