Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What's the worst writing rule/advice out there?

A few weeks ago, I did an author visit at a local school. It was loads of fun, we made a ruckus, and at the end of my presentation, I answered questions. This class had a ton of them.

There was, of course, the usual stuff about writing. And I was reluctant to give a lot of advice--aside from the 'don't give up' speech. Because I've been given such a ton of bad advice. Writing 'rules' someone came up with (sometimes a famous author, but more often not), rules I followed but that ultimately cramped my style.

Like that you shouldn't write in first person. And that you shouldn't address the reader (I do all those things).

Or that you should write every day. Tom Angleberger (he writes middle-grade, in case you're unfamiliar) wrote an awesome post about that rule today, and I couldn't agree more. Some days, you're better off thinking about your story before writing. Fold some laundry. Take a walk.

How about you, fellow writer friends? What writing rule do you like to break? Any bad advice you wish you hadn't taken?


  1. Kill all your darlings is one of those that new writers take a little too seriously. Your darlings aren't always those witticisms you think they are, but than again, the danger of killing all your darlings is killing your unique voice. Sadly it took me a long time to realize how advice can hurt you as well as help you.

    I completely agree about not writing everyday. Sometimes you need to get out of your head to make your work better.

  2. Fleur, I'd describe my own worst writing rule in just one word—procrastination. Start writing now! would be a good rule to follow.

  3. I know: sometimes darlings are worth saving. I've killed some stuff that was perfectly good.

    Prashant: oh, so true :-)

  4. There are a lot of them, aren't there? I wonder if they shouldn't be thought of as more personal pet peeves.

  5. I know--writing is so subjective and personal. What works for one writer might not for the next guy--and I find that for me, stuff that worked last year (or even month--ha!) doesn't work now.

    It's a craft...:-)

  6. Write about what you know. What a boring book that would be.

  7. They're written and published all the time... Yeah, as crime fiction writers, we'd be in trouble if we followed that rule :-)