#IWSG: Rewriting My Writing Rules… Again!

Hello, friends!  Welcome to this month’s meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!  If you’re a writer and if you feel insecure about your writing life, click here to learn more about this amazingly supportive group!

So last month, I didn’t get much blogging done.  I was a little busy working on something else.  But I did have time last month to have a long, heartfelt conversation with my muse.  We ended up setting some new rules and renegotiating the terms of our writer/muse relationship.

There are plenty of writing rules out there, of course, but as my muse likes to say:

And that’s exactly what I did.  I took a look at some of the rules I’ve been following—both the rules I’ve adopted from other writers and also the rules I’ve invented for myself.  I cut some, edited others.  I condensed and combined a few things together.  Then, in the end, I presented my muse with the following letter:

Dear Muse,

I promise to write every single day, because writing requires daily practice, and my writing skills and writing stamina atrophy quickly if I skip too many days in a row.

I promise to do warm up exercises on a regular basis, because sometimes my brain needs a little help switching over from real life mode to writing mode.

I promise to work on a wide range of creative projects each week, because focusing on just one project leads to creative stagnation, while jumping between projects can help stir up the creative juices.

And if I break any of these promises, dear muse, I promise to write you a long and sincere apology letter, because that will help me learn from my mistakes and figure out how to do better next time.

Sincerely,

Your Writer.

I’ve written (and rewritten) plenty of writing rules for myself over the years, but I never thought to include those “because” clauses before.  Those because clauses make a real difference, I think.  It’s one thing to make up a bunch of rules and try to follow some sort of routine.  But rules and routines get boring.  Once that happens, it’s easy to forget why those rules were important, and excuses for breaking the rules are not hard to find.

So I’m going to make one last promise.  I promise to post my rules prominently in my writing sanctuary, because sometimes I need a quick reminder not only of what my rules are but why those rules are important to me.  And, as always, if it turns out these new rules don’t work out for me: writing rules are made to be rewritten.

So what do you think of my new writing rules, and what sort of writing rules do you follow?

24 thoughts on “#IWSG: Rewriting My Writing Rules… Again!

    1. Hopefully not! But if I do, that’s not such a bad thing. I’m sure I’ll slip up eventually. When I do, I’m think that writing an apology letter will be a good first step to help me get back to writing other things.

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    1. I used to set a weekly word count quota, but there are always going to days (or weeks) when I spend a lot of time on writing but don’t get many actual words down on paper. Maybe I had a lot of editing to do, or maybe I needed to focus more on research. I didn’t like penalizing myself for that.

      I still keep track of my word count totals, because I find that information helpful. But I don’t worry so much if my numbers are a bit low sometimes.

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      1. That makes sense. I’ve thought about setting a very low quota, say 500 words, just to force myself to sit down everyday and enter writer mode. It should be trivial, since I shell out 500 word comments all the time. Just have to do it.

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      2. 500 sounds like a good number. I like the idea of setting the bar kind of low. Really, getting started is the hardest part, at least for me. But once I get started, it gets easier and easier to keep things going.

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  1. I like your rules, J.S. I’m a big believer in whatever works for each individual. The “becauses” are really good. Wishing you lots of luck and no apology letters!

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  2. I am currently keeping to a daily writing schedule, and am finding that helpful, both for productivity and creativity. It means that I am never “out” of my story for long, so I don’t forget what’s happening. But everyone needs to find their own rules. The key is to find what works for you, and it sounds like you’re doing that, James.

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    1. That’s one of the issues I’ve been having. I’d find an excuse to skip a day, maybe two days. And those excuses might seem like really good excuses, too! But then I’d try to get back into the story, and I wouldn’t really remember what was supposed to be happening. I’ve found that it takes me another full day (at least!) for me to get back into the flow of things.

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  3. Hey, writing a long and sincere apology letter counts as writing too, so that solves the problem of writing every day. I don’t have writing rules other than trying to write whenever I get a chance, and trying to make my story as entertaining to the reader as I can. What more can I do?

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    1. At the end of the day, those are the things that matter most. Now that I’m telling myself that I have to write every single day, though, I’m discovering that I have more chances to write in my day than I previously realized.

      And yeah, writing an apology letter definitely counts as writing. I’d even call it a writing exercise! It’s not really a punishment, you see; it’s a way to ease myself back into writing, if and when I need it.

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  4. This is great. Here’s to you. Good luck with the new plan. A lot of this, especially the write every day and especially especially the multiple projects, are really important. I need to do both of those things more. Good luck with it and thanks for the nudge.

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    1. Thanks, and good luck to you too! The multiple projects thing feels a little counterintuitive to me. I keep thinking I need to throw everything I’ve got at Tomorrow News Network (i.e. the one writing project that’s earning me money). But the work I do on other projects really does help keep my mind fresh.

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