Friday, July 8, 2011

The trip-lines of writing rules

I read this a couple of days ago.

I completely agree that those three rules don't work for me either, but the last line in particular resinated for me:

"Writing is hard enough without putting obstacles in your own path."

Writing rules are great... from reading the processes that different people use, I can connect with some, and it makes me feel that I'm not wrong. That I have company. There are others out there with similar methods that are as strange and illogical as mine.

But writing rules also have the other side. Until I started to actively hunt out and read other writers' blogs, I had never come across anyone who wrote like I did... and had that impression that I was *doing it wrong*. A few short years ago, I had no knowledge of writing... other than very basic, general kind of stuff. Writing was a fun escape, something that I had to do (on occasion) 'cause ideas were keeping me awake, well, more than ideas, it was characters... and I had to get their darkness out of my head. I had never thought about writing rules. I just wrote what I wanted to write, however I wanted to.

Then I joined a critique group... and read a couple books on writing... which introduced me to the rules, the formula of *how to write*.

I think a lot of times I got stuck or just plain avoided writing was because I was trying to do something in a way recommended by someone more knowledgeable, but their methods just ended up tripping me up and making writing a frustrating and brain-hurting adventure of Sisyphus-ian proportions.

I've kind of turned a corner now... well, maybe in the last year. I'm back to focusing on what I want to write and I'm doing it the way it works for me. I'm not thinking too hard, I'm just having fun. The best part is, since I stopped trying to force myself into a mould that didn't fit, the tales that are spinning out from my fingers have also opened up. Having confidence is the key, and that I have it at all is still a little surprising, but I'm not constantly questioning every word before it hits the page, and after. I'm going with my gut.

How about you? What writing rules have and have not worked for you? How did you find confidence, and in what?


  1. I really relate to this. I used to write without thinking about rules and it made me happy. Then I learned "the rules," and all of a sudden everything got much harder. I've struggled with balancing my sentence structure, show vs. tell and trying to keep everything in active voice all the time.

    I've learned that all those rules are useful *most of the time*, but not always. Part of what really opened my eyes to that was seeing how the published books I read break the rules.

    I'm still working on it, but trying not to overanalyze everything. Thanks for reminding me that I'm not alone in this!

  2. Overanalyzing always seems to get me in trouble :) ...or at least paralyzes me 'cause I'm so busy thinking in circles, I just get caught up in it.

    It's really weird... writing rules. On the one hand, I know all the people who relayed them to me had the best of intentions, 'cause normally, having a formula or set of rules makes a job easier, right?

    ...but it just doesn't seem to work for writing :)

    Glad I'm not the only one!


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