Rules rules rules. So many writing ‘talking heads’ want you to follow every writing step they see as imperative to a great book. My issue with this stems from the fact that each person who writes comes from a different place. Their internal idiosyncrasies and life experiences lead them down diverse paths that blanket rules cannot hope to cover.
The true secret to writing is to write your truth, write it real, and write without apology. Does this guarantee you success and fame and fortune? Absolutely not. What writing your truth will bring you is satisfaction and pride in your work.
When you’re writing fiction, you’re still writing a ‘truth’ from within whether the writing is a statement on life or simply a dream you conjured in your sleep. Writing it real means that when you need the writing to get nasty you’re willing to go there to the limits of your own personal boundaries and at least a step more. This is called “challenging yourself” as a writer. Anything less is watered down drivel.
Think of the process this way. If you don’t challenge yourself as a writer, how in the hell do you expect what you write to challenge a reader? When you simply follow the lines of demarcation of what you think people want, all they’ll get is what they want. There will be no surprise, no pain, no growth, no memory on which to cling.
Yes, the argument may be made that if you deliver excitement or sex or violence or some other surface oriented writing, the reader will be satisfied. But at what level? Will they be blown away by the content of the book?
For my time on this earth, I want to impact readers. I don’t desire to spend my hours and words to simply tickle their surface-brain. I look to dig deep into a reader’s heart and move them in some memorable manner. I crave impact. I want a reader to walk away with something, anything, that will enhance their life.
Yes, I agree, there’s a place for good escapist writing. I’ve read many a book like that and I’ve penned a good number of stories that would qualify in that realm. But it’s the “Great American Novel” concept, isn’t it? The drive comes from deep within and this drive propels itself forward, determined to connect with others on that same level.
Of course something deep to me may be a wading pool to others. What I’ve learned though, is that my ‘wading pool writing’ is also many folks’ sonar defying depths. This is why you write for yourself. Your audience will be identified once you’re done, not before.
Therefore, when you go to conferences and schools of higher learning, please, please, please remember these talking heads with their rules will only handcuff you unless you step into yourself, take what they say which helps you and employ it, and jettison that which hinders your muse.
Writing requires you to find your confidence even when you wrestle daily with the very concept of confidence. Boldy go where you’ve never gone. Step into your higher self. I tell you true, the “greats” of writing, when they were trailblazing new styles, words, structures, etc., did not stop to ask for rules. In fact, the rules often drove them to create their own rules.
Sometimes new rules are reviled, possibly for years, possibly forever. Yet how many books once derided as rule-breaking pieces of crap are now held up as incredible works. There are many.
Write your truth. Write it real. Write it without apology. Leave the rules for those who wish to stay on the beaten path. You want to trail-blaze your writing? Make up your own rules…