Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bend the Rules...

In the words of the immortal Thomas Edison (you know... the guy with 1093 patents): "Hell, there are no rules here - we're trying to accomplish something."

Of course, strictly speaking, he did follow rules - like the laws of physics, etc. - but he didn't let some other person's arbitrary rules stand in the way of getting things done. And he sure as hell didn't let anyone else tell him he was doin' it wrong. Heh, part of the reason he got so much done was that he WAS doing it wrong. As long as the outcome was what he wanted, though, he didn't much care what anyone else thought.

As writers we do have to follow some rules - like the rules of the English language - but beyond those, the rest is what we make up as we go along. (And even those are really subject to interpretation depending on what you're trying to do.)

Since I started this writing thing four and a half years ago, I've encountered too many rules that other people assumed were set in stone. If you've been around the block a few times, you know what I'm talking about. In their minds, breaking those rules was Verboten. You know what? Maybe all the rules work for them. What they don't understand, though, is their rules don't work for everyone.

This morning, Toni McGee Causey talks about the whole writing schedule rule over at Murder She Writes. To paraphrase this unwritten rule as I heard it: "In order to be considered a 'real writer' one must adhere to a schedule, creating x-number of words in x-hours every day." Feh. Some even go so far as to give you a timetable - like working from 10-2 or 5-9 every day means you get to have a plaque on your desk that says 'professional writer'. *shrug*

Don't get me wrong. I like rules. I'm a rule following kind of person. And that's what got me in so much trouble early on in this writing business. I was so busy trying to follow every little damn rule, I was crushing my creativity like a bug, not to mention allowing myself to get pulled apart trying to follow conflicting rules. That's just crazy.

I guess what I'm trying to say this morning is: Bend the rules, and ignore anyone who says you have to follow each and every one of them in order to be considered a real writer. Rules were meant to be broken (or at least bent to fit) - especially when they're being applied to something as fluid as writing.

And no, I'm not advocating that you totally turn into Yoda. "Write books I do. Good they are." But see, even that craptacular bit of English worked for its intended purpose.

In short, use the rules that work for you. Bend them to fit. Man was meant to shape the word around him, not be shaped by it. Shape the rules until you have the best story you can write. And the next person who tells you you'll never be a real writer because you didn't follow his rules? Tell him to go pound sand.

Or better yet, ignore him and do your own thing.

'Nuff said.

1 comment:

Travis Erwin said...

I tossed out the rules while writing Plundered Booty and just wrote the story iw anted to, but so far that tactic hasn't been met with any success either.