By "the writing koans," I mean those oft-repeated bits of beginner advice or comment that seem ridiculously simple, or simply wrong-headed, and eventually start to unveil layer after layer of meaning as you start to figure out how this process works. And it's not something that can really be explained. It just has to be grokked.
I have a list of them that I figure I'll be adding to for a long time.
Here's a few (it's not an exhaustive list.):
Omit needless words! Omit needless words! (yes, twice, on purpose.)
Show, don't tell.
Fall down seven times; get up eight. (Alternately: "Try, fail. Try again. Fail better.")
Character is conflict (or "Character is plot.")
You have to write a million word of shit.(see also: "Writing can't be taught; it can only be learned." and "Good, now go write for ten years.")
Start at the beginning of the story./ Start with action./ Start with a change.
Write what you know. (I prefer "Know what you write.")
In other news, yhlee is smart (and cranky) about race and SFF over here.