It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.
Every month, the organisers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!
The January 4 Question: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?
I have a love/hate relationship with the writing rules.
I was jagged up by the rule “show don’t tell” for years. I see this as a great cautionary tale for up-and-coming writers. Don’t let the rules limit you. As they say, learn the rules then forget them or else the writing can become stilted.
The great writer, Ursula Le Guin said, ‘Thanks to “show don’t tell,” I find writers in my workshops who think exposition is wicked. They’re afraid to describe the world they’ve invented.’
When I was coming up as a writer, I took on board every rule I heard until my writing had turned into literary cardboard.
Other control freaks will understand. We take the rules to heart. I followed the rules to the extent that all creative spark in me became squashed. I didn’t have any fresh material for stories. I felt blocked. I wasn’t enjoying the creative process anymore.
One critique partner at the time said my sentences had no flow and were the rhythmic equivalent of ‘riding over cobblestones on a horse.’
I had a very kind old Indian writer patiently explain that ‘a story is like a room in need of decoration.’ He said, “While your stories are good there isn’t enough furniture.’
Part of my coming up and finding my feet as a writer came from letting go of the rules or at least holding them at a decent arm’s length. I had to give myself permission to experiment again, in order to free up again and feel the inspired feelings take over.
My writing hero, Kate de Goldi, has said the reason she writes is to chase her lost childhood Eden.
Childhood is eternally enshrined in my mind as the time in my life when I was the most wild and free. It is to that state I seek to return through my writing, and to help the reader see, feel and experience. It is that place I sought to go in the books I read as a child. It is to those ‘special shaded places’ I return to in the books I read as an adult.
Can I find the secret shaded places through the window of the rules? No. Though it’s helpful to know what’s what when it comes to editing! I think this is what Stephen King meant when he said, “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” For me, my initial writing process, or what Joy Cowley calls ‘the genesis project,’ happens best when I shut out what the world has to say, via rules or otherwise, and surrender to wherever the muse wants to go.
If I have writing resolutions for 2017, it is to get my second book finished! And, to let myself be even more free with my writing this year, to be more wild. I want to feel I can explore, unfettered, the unique way of writing fiction which works best for me. And, I love that this particular process is an ever-unfolding road. It will never be finished. I’ll never reach the end of learning how to write.
The goal is ever to find my stories in my way, on my own terms.
What is your New Year’s Writing Resolution?
Talk to you later.
Keep on Creating!
Yvette K. Carol
Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. ~ Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
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