Kryss (short for Crystal but DON’T EVER CALL HER THAT) is milling around my hospital bed in an oversized sweatshirt and strategically ripped jeans, a skull-and-crossbones clip holding her bangs. She’s here under duress with orders from the principal to deliver my assignments. Her bored eyes stare at me from above the pink, stretched, pregnant-belly flesh of a bubble gum bubble.
“Nah, just a regular hospital,” I reply.
The bubble pops. Smack smack. Her low, monotone drawl: “Um… But there’s like… posters of brains all over the place.”
Eugh… “Rules.” Just the word makes me think of similarly off-putting things, like peas or gym class or t-shirt armpits yellowed by old sweat stains. I prefer the more pleasing word “guidelines.” Ahh, that’s better – like a cheerful garden path leading you towards better writing. Or that wise old word “advice,” with its wizard beard and smell of vintage paper. And let’s not forget that perky lil word, “tips!”
Rules are smart, but no rule/guideline/advice/tip is an ironclad absolute.
Two weeks ago I discussed writing slow, a process often touted against but which I believe has merit. I decided to continue that theme with a post about other rules you can safely ignore.
There are important rules in writing, of course. Lots of rules are well-founded and should definitely be followed. What I don’t support is the attitude some authors have about these Rules with Capital R’s, the ones they shout from their desk with a zealously pointed index finger. “YOU. BAD AUTHOR. YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.”
Let’s start with the one I see pushed most aggressively: Write every day.