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Life is complicated. Writing is even more complicated than that. Maybe that’s why writing rules are so popular, because they make writing sound so much easier. Just follow these simple rules and your writing will be good, guaranteed!
When I first started writing, I took these rules very seriously. I used to agonize over my work. Did I break a rule here? What if I broke a rule there? What should I do if two rules seem to contradict each other?
I actually had a notebook full of all the rules I’d read about or heard about. There was a lot of stuff in that notebook. But then my muse came along. For those of you who haven’t met my muse before, she’s the little fairy person who hovers over my shoulder and nags me whenever I’m not writing. For a while, my muse liked to tell me that writing rules are made to be broken. Then she thought of a cleverer way to phrase it:
So it’s with some trepidation that I’ve decided to start the New Year by setting some new writing rules for myself. But really, these “rules” are more like lessons learned from bad writing experiences. They’re meant to keep me from repeating the same mistakes that I’ve made over and over again in my writing life.
- When a new idea pops into your head, stop everything and write it down, because good ideas don’t stick around in the brain for long.
- Don’t talk about currently active writing projects with anyone, at least not until the editing phase, because you never really know what it is you’re writing until it’s finished.
- Don’t try to fix every flaw you see (or think you see) in your work, because perfect writing is dull and the occasional flaw can provide its own unique charm.
Are these good writing rules? Maybe. If not, as my muse likes to say, I can always rewrite them! So what writing rules have you written—or rewritten—for yourself?