Whether you’re new to the writing world, or you’ve been writing for decades, you’re going to come across the Writer Rules somewhere down the line. What exactly are the Writer Rules? Well, in my humble opinion, they’re rules that, for the most part, freeze the creative process and make me feel like less than a real writer, even though I’ve published a novel. They go a little something like this:
- You must schedule at least an hour of writing time per day.
- You must reach a certain word count per day.
- You must finish writing your novel within X time frame.
Blah, blah, blah.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think Jane Austen set a timer and cranked out as many words–good or bad–as she could in hopes that she’d have a somewhat decent output at the end. I don’t believe for a second Harper Lee followed these rules when she wrote the masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird. If you search for writing tips online, you’re going to come across all these resources that insist this is the way to become a writer.
No. You’re a writer because you put your heart and soul into your work, not because you follow guidelines.
While I’m on this tangent, I just want to point out that you don’t have to earn a degree in Creative Writing to be a Real Writer. Yes, you can be taught how to spell. You can be taught how to properly form a sentence, and how to use proper grammar. No one, however, can be taught creativity. Here’s a list of authors who don’t have creative writing degrees:
- Nicholas Sparks
- R.J. Palacio
- Harper Lee
- Arthur Conan Doyle
- Charles Dickens
- Mark Twain
- William Faulkner
Just to name a few. Now, I’m not saying that having a degree in creative writing will make you an uncreative author. Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors, and she has a creative writing degree. I’m just saying that it doesn’t make you less than other writers if you don’t earn a degree in writing.
I have a full-time job in the IT field. I would have loved to pursue writing as my full-time job, but the stakes are risky. So instead, I earned a degree in Management Information Systems and took the everyone-will-have-a-technology-job track. But, even though I work from 8 to 5 five days a week and can’t write every day, that doesn’t make me less of a writer. Whether you’re brainstorming ideas or making an extensive plot outline, whether you write one page or twenty pages in one sitting, you’re a writer because you love to write. Period. Don’t let the Writer Rules intimidate you or make you feel less than. You are not less than. You’re a writer as much as anyone else, and you can achieve success on the route God takes you, not just on the cookie-cutter one websites suggest.
So here’ s a new rule for you writers out there: Break The Writer Rules!
Which Writer Rules intimidate you? I’d love to discuss them in the comments! 🙂