Tuesday, August 17, 2010

All the rules, all the time

Have you ever stopped writing because you don’t know all the rules? If you think about it too much, the rules can be overwhelming. Trying to remember all the rules of grammar, spelling and fiction or nonfiction can conjure up a big bad case of writer’s block.

A few years ago at a Saturday Writers meeting, we had a magazine editor who was pretty laid back and honest about the whole process of writing. He acknowledged how difficult it is, but like many other forms of art, realized that there are times when rules can hinder writers. Sometimes, the whole is greater than its parts, and writers can drive themselves crazy trying to follow every rule, especially while trying to break new ground.

Someone asked him about the story arc in one of his stories. He hesitated while he thought for a moment, and then said something like, (and I’m paraphrasing here) I don’t even know if I really know what that is. Everyone laughed, and breathed a sigh of relief. Obviously, he hadn’t thought about following a story arc when he wrote his story. But the story was wonderful regardless of a story arc, or lack thereof.

I’m not saying you can disregard all the rules. I’m saying you need to know the rules, but realize that sometimes the writing takes you to a place “outside” the rules, where creativity takes precedence over everything else.

This man is a good writer who doesn’t always follow all the rules. In this case, wasn’t even sure what the exact rule was. I appreciated his honesty, and he helped many writers in the group who struggle with following all the rules, all the time.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mary! Love your blog! I'm so happy you have joined the Blog World!
    I just posted something along these lines on my blog the other day...about how being such a novice made me/makes me sometimes not do the "correct" thing when it comes to writing rules or etiquette, but it gets me where I'm going! Congrats on your book, by the way! I didn't know about it!