|Original image by Rachel Lyra Hospodar|
Writing advice blogs list many rules for you to follow in your books. Never use adjectives, use strong verbs instead. Don’t use the word ‘was’ because that’s passive writing. Never write a prologue because that undermines the rest of your book. I’m sure we’ve all seen these rules and many, many more. But then you see writers who have prologues, who write passively, whose prose are full of adverbs, and who get away with all these things brilliantly, and it gets confusing. While these rules have merit because they stop and make us think about our prose and whether we really need that prologue, it is all too easy to get caught up in following the rules to the letter to the detriment of our stories. So, with this in mind, I’ve made my own list of writing rules.
Thou shalt not discard ideas because of the opinion of others. Give your ideas fair consideration and don’t be swayed by what other people say about them. Who is to say they know best when it comes to your writing? Even if it is an idea that has been done a hundred times before, if you really want to write it, you’ll be able to think up a new twist on it.
Thou shalt follow the rules of writing only so far as they improve your book. Don’t get bogged down in eliminating all those ‘was’s just because someone says you shouldn’t use them. There is a place for everything, and sometimes you really do need to use the word ‘was’ to avoid awkward writing. Judge whether to follow the rules by the way it helps your book. The story is king.
Thou shall not judge your writing compared to that of others. Other writers have different styles, have been writing for different lengths of time, or, in the case of published authors, have worked with a team of highly skilled professionals. Your writing is unique and can never be measured against some standardised yardstick.
Thou shalt devour the creations of others. One cannot create in a vacuum. If there are no ideas coming in from outside, you pretty quickly run out of things to say. Take some time in between writing to recharge your creative batteries and sample some of the amazing creations of other people, whether they be books, poems, movies, plays, or anything else that fires up your imagination.
Give all feedback consideration, but do not believe it blindly. Not all critiques and comments are useful. What seems to be a problem to one person may not be seen as an issue by another. Consider all suggestions and feedback carefully and with a clear mind and decide for yourself whether it’s helpful or not.
Thou shalt be proud of thy writing. Your writing is an amazing thing and you deserve to be proud of your books and your characters, and to share your excitement with your fellow writers and understanding friends. However, don’t fall into the trap of talking about writing more than you do it. You must have something written to be proud of.
Above all else, thou shalt be true to yourself as a writer. Don’t follow what other people write simply because you think it’s better than what you write. Don’t take on the style of another writer because you think it is better than your own. Write what you want, accept your own writing voice, and enjoy being a writer. Because after all, we have worlds in our heads that spill onto paper. What could be more wonderful than that?
Do you agree with these rules? What rules would you add to this list? What is one thing you are proud of at the moment?