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For Authors: April 10, 2024 Issue [#12485]

 This week: Feel Bound By Rules? Break Them!
  Edited by: Annette
                             More Newsletters By This Editor  

Table of Contents

1. About this Newsletter
2. A Word from our Sponsor
3. Letter from the Editor
4. Editor's Picks
5. A Word from Writing.Com
6. Ask & Answer
7. Removal instructions

About This Newsletter

Creative writing is about possibilities, not about restrictions and limitations. ~ Randall Silvis

Word from our sponsor

Letter from the editor

Feel Bound By Rules? Break Them!

New to writing and eager to get better at it, many turn to rules in hopes to enhance, improve, increase their output. In response to these quests for knowledge, "experienced" writers offer lists of rules that go from general to specific.

Some of the generic rules appear to make sense at first blush: Write every day. Read a lot. Write the story you want to read.

The specific rules get stricter: Don't use adverbs ever. Never start a story by talking about the weather. Keep your sentences short.

It's okay to read the rules. It's even okay to give each or all of those rules a try. If one of these rules sticks and works, then great. But if any of the rules constantly clashes with your schedule, your personal interests, or what you're trying to express with words, you need to let those rules go. Trash them without remorse. Writing is creative and rules are the opposite of creative.

More rules to break when needed.

Never edit until the first draft is finished.
This may work for some people, but those of us who have a constant inner editor running in the background are going to need to fix typos the moment they are seen. Because they will otherwise clog up our creative mind and hold up the act of writing much longer than the amount of time it takes to make a correction. It's also perfectly fine to see a sentence that is "off" and, while not fixing it right away, put parentheses around to come back to it later.

Make a writing schedule and stick to it no matter what.
If you live in a place where all days are the same from morning until night, go right ahead and stick to a schedule. Most people have things coming up that throw schedules around. Write when you can.

Write what you know.
This rule is a real problem. How would a woman write a man? How would we ever mention anyone who is not part of our same demographic? How could we imagine Sci-Fi, Fantasy, or even Action/Adventures? I, for one, will never drive a car out of the window of a sky scraper and crash it into the window of another skyscraper. But I just wrote that sentence. See how I didn't have to know what that feels like? Definitely write everything that comes to your mind.
That being said, do your research if you're going to write about something that has been settled through science or historic accounts. Even if you plan to corrupt scientific facts or take liberties with history, you should know what it is that you're changing for the purpose of your story.

Show don't tell.
For the most part, this is a valid bit of advice. But how are you going to show me what time it is if the characters are sitting in a train compartment? How are you going to show me that time has passed? It's perfectly fine to tell me, "Five. Years. Later."

Write like the authors whom you admire.
This one is true if you admire yourself. You really need to have your own voice. You need to base your writing on the things that you can confidently describe. It doesn't matter how good someone else writes in your opinion. They are writing from their own very narrow point of view of the world. There is no way that you can ever replicate that because you're not in their head. Be in your own head and write the way you see it. Of course you can borrow phrases and ideas. You will be much prouder and accomplished by finding your own way of telling your stories.

Which common writing rule rubs you the wrong way? Have you or will you break it?

Editor's Picks

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Ask & Answer

Replies to my last For Author's newsletter "Pomodoro versus Flowtime that asked Are you Team Pomodoro or Team Flowtime?

sorry, buddhangela's broken wrote: Pomodoro and Flowtime are methods I’ll try and–with luck–I’ll be able to create a cleaner writing schedule. I’m lacking routine in all areas, and this is one that I think I could build other routines onto. However, giving me the suggestion that I need to purchase a timer will likely lead to a few hours of browsing Amazon looking at every odd and fun timer out there. I’m a sucker for a gimmick. I could just use the timer on my watch, but I’m going to look for a funky timer. Hey, whatever inspires, right? *Wink*

I'm all about shopping for the perfect gimmick for hours!

brom21 wrote: I would probably consider myself a flowtime kind of guy. Writing juts 25 minutes at a time is not enough time to hash out to put the desired amount of content. lol. But, burning out is something I run into when writing. I am learning to take extended breaks though. My goal is to commit to 1k words a day then edit it over for five times at least. Thanks for the NL!

Your idea of a writing schedule sounds very sensible. Stick to it!

Beholden wrote: I guess I must be on Team Flowtime because I certainly don't use a tomato or anything else to set my writing time. But I don't think I'm really a flowtimer either. When I'm writing, I don't care about what else is going on or can be looked at. For me, it's all about how hard it is to keep my nose to the grindstone. When it becomes too much, I stop. And that can be 25 minutes (this is rare - I usually last much longer) or half a day if it's really going well. I think a timer would actually be counterproductive for me - it would give me an excuse to stop.
But what I really want to know is what you mean by "Write like you really mean it." Is there any other way?

Insightful. And ... yes. You can stare at the blank screen and then toggle away to play Solitaire.

dragonwoman wrote: I'm more Team Flowtime. My process is based on 30 minutes. If I get on a roll, the timer goes out the window figuratively.No tomato timer, just a mundane mechanical one that I set myself.

Mechanical is nice.

Elycia Lee ☮ wrote: Heyyy! I wanted to know if you are Team Flowtime or Team Pomodoro, but you didn't say. *Laugh* To be honest, I have not heard of Flowtime. I've always used Pomodoro at my workplace to keep my sanity and it was especially important during the pandemic because writing from home with all the distractions from work emails, work WhatsApp messages, and endless overtime online Zoom meetings meant that it was difficult to just stay on my Pomodoros. I enjoy counting them and I make little boxes to cross them out. After 4 pomodoros, you get a 15-minute break. I usually can't continue working after 4 pomodoros. Therefore, I think maybe Flowtime may work better for me? However, dealing with Wonderland, I realised that writing for a long amount of time when I am in the zone works much, much better for me even though it would later result in a massive lack of sleep, huge hangover, and a headache. *Laugh* Then again, it's the do-until-complete method so... I'm kinda on the fence here. Pomodoro definitely ensure you don't get this massive hangover though it can disrupt your flow so you can't get in the zone. If I did Flowtime like I did Wonderland, I am in the zone and that is every writer's wish, but the price to pay is sometimes way too high.

I'm team "in the zone."

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