I’ll be starting a new blog series, No Rules, for tips on writing. I call it this because in writing there are no rules.
You read that correctly. There. Are. No. Rules.
Okay, so not no rules. (If you tell my high school English teacher I said that I may have to repeat ninth grade and tenth and twelve…) What I really mean is there are no hard and fast rules for writing that apply to everyone, such as “write for 20 minutes everyday,” or “write everyday” for that matter, or “write in the morning,” or “write super fast,” or “first draft has to be is crap,” etc. While some of these might work for me – or you – doing these, or not doing them, is not what makes me a writer. However, sometimes a tip resonates with me, and I try to incorporate it into my practice. My goal in this new series is to collect for myself, and share, the tips that work for me.
There are hundreds, no thousands, of books and blogs, on writing “rules” and tips, and for good reason – we can all use improvement. And yes, I’m sure the big names still work on their craft. But what works for Sanderson, probably doesn’t work for Martin, and what worked for McCaffrey probably wasn’t the process Tolkien used. Could we all learn something from them? Of course. But everyone has their own style and trying to write exactly like someone else, well, let’s just say it has it’s limitations.
I have been writing since before high school, of course back then it was mostly poetry and short stories. But the aforementioned English teacher did not have a very high regard for my work. For 3 years of high school I had the same English teacher (small school) and I was lucky if I passed each year, let alone got a compliment on a piece I wrote. Then one year, I actually received a B in English class – different teacher! This particular instructor believed more in the art than in some hard and fast rules, and what’s more, he actually liked what I wrote. He encouraged me to express myself.
You see, writers do not produce a polished piece of art in one draft (well, most writers don’t). There are usually rounds of edits and corrections, and people who are actually trained in technique and grammar look at your drafts. So am I saying rules don’t matter? Of course not. And I’m not talking about grammar rules here (I know I still have to work on those!) However, if you have a passion for sharing your experiences in writing, I am saying don’t let fear of some set of rules (or your high school English teacher) scare you away from doing what you love. Try out the writing tips you find helpful and take what works for you.
I, for one, would love to have a list of dos and don’ts that make a “perfect” writer or writing routine. However, some common tips, like write every day, just won’t work for me. I have a full time job, am a single mom, and right now am home schooling my son (not just virtual school, home school, as in I am the teacher!) Plus the myriad of other life circumstances that pop up (broke my toe!), make it nearly impossible for me to sequester myself somewhere to write everyday. (I dream of a little cottage someday where I can sip cocoa – I don’t drink tea – and compose my prose overlooking the countryside…)
What of the other tips? That’s what I am hoping to do in this little slice of my blog. Post tips *I* find helpful or not so helpful. I don’t expect them to help everyone and I certainly don’t look at them as rules. I just want to share my journey and hope it helps someone else along the way.
I know there are so many smarter and wiser then I, but if you are reading this (and you made it this far) then I’m sure we can learn a little from sharing our experiences with each other.
If you are a writer, I would love to hear from you. Do you have a list of tips you follow that help you focus or write better? Is there something you are struggling with that you’d like to hear about in a future No Rules post?
Full disclosure, I am a writer, but I am not a published author. While there is a distinction, being unpublished makes me no less of a writer or an author.