Earlier this week I read a post on the forums at Scribophile.com (I recommend them if you’re looking for a genuinely serious place to get crits and give them in any genre.) that was about personal writing rules. There’s something about the word ‘rules’ that makes me cringe everytime I hear it when talking about creative writing. I deal with enough rules at my job and in society as a whole. Writing is about escaping all of that and creating a world where anything I want goes.
Now, I understand that good grammar and there are some craft and technical aspects to writing that need to be learned in order to write something other then gibberish. That being said I like to think I have writing rituals rather then ‘rules’. Perhaps its just symantics but rituals feels much better to me. A ritual feels more organic. To me a ritual is less rigid and dragonian then a ‘rule’.
Some of the rituals have include:
1) Turning off the feature that underlines misspelled words and bad grammar while writing my rough draft. I’m a visual person so seeing redlines under sentences is the equivlant of getting smacked on the knucles.
2) Music is important. I often write while listening to dark ambient or other instrumental music. It’s usually something that suits the theme of my writing. Not only does it help set the mood but it allows me to avoid the distractions caused by neighbors since I live in an apartment complex.
3) I always stop writing at a point where the story/ideas are still flowing. I may stop mid scene even. That way when I come back to it I am at a place where I do not struggle to think up ‘what next’.
4) I find taking a notebook to be impractical but when I get an idea I stop what I am doing as soon as possible and writing it down on a piece of paper. Even the back of a receipt. I do have a notebook that I try to take with me when I go to work but I don’t always remember it. I think its more important to write ideas down regardless rather then let them drift off into the ether.
5) Writing doesn’t always take place at the keyboard or with a pen in hand. I read somewhere that writing isn’t just about typing. That daydreaming/brain storming is just as important. That thinking about your writing is part of the art, too. I could take it a step further and say that every thing has the potential to enhance my writing. Cracking eggs this morning is something that may apply to a future story. Changing diapers may too. I don’t think anything is ordinary instead it has the potential to make for better writing.