ISWG Post #05

JANUARY QUESTION: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

Oh… there are a couple. Some are just on the list because I’m a slightly obsessive person and knowing these “rules” makes me pretty annoying when reading over someone else’s work. But I have to say that the rule I genuinely wish I’d never heard is…

Write every day. 

I know, I know it’s a good habit. It’s a good goal, but I beat myself up a little on the inside whenever I don’t meet it. The discouragement of not living by the rule outweighs the benefits of living by it successfully, for me. I feel weirdly as though I’m constantly competing against myself. That said, participating in NaNoWriMo has kicked me into a higher gear than usual lately and I do want to try and keep that up. Maybe just not mandatory every day. 

And now, the rules I do appreciate but obsess over more than I should:

  • Only use said, with limited variations such as whispered or yelled. Don’t get into “he grated out” or “she snorted” territory, because you don’t talk literally through your teeth or your nose. (I think the gist of this is something I picked up from Stephen King’s On Writing.)
  • Use any “-ly” words as sparingly as possible because it’s telling rather than showing. (Also from On Writing.)
  • Consecutive sentences and consecutive paragraphs should not start with the same word or phrase. (Not sure where this came from, but if I see two sentences in a paragraph start with the same words I start counting how many nearby sentences do the same. It’s exhausting.)
  • If you have back and forth dialogue and then descriptions of what different characters are doing/thinking/etc., it goes in the same paragraph as what they’re saying. Someone else does something? Separate paragraph. (Not sure if this is real advice or just a thing I do. I can’t remember if I got it from anywhere besides just generally being a bookworm.)
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4 thoughts on “ISWG Post #05

  1. Great blog, I totally agree with these rules, but they’re something I always forget about when actually writing – then I have to make a special edit to remove all the -ly words or check for repetition.
    Writing every day sounds like a big commitment, I think I’m too naturally contrary to do that – I’d refuse to do it like a kid refusing to eat peas and then I’d feel guilty afterwards. Humans brains are daft!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish I could forget them while writing, it might make things easier. During November I ignore my inner editor and it’s kind of a relief to be able to finish something, even if it does need a lot of going back over. Super daft.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely! I did write every day for a long stretch, about 4 months straight back in last summer/autumn, but let me tell you the burnout from that was no joke. I did get a lot of writing done, but I can’t say if it was a good “exercise” for me in the long run. We are our own worst enemy, and oftentimes we’re much too hard on ourselves. Would we give our best friend such astringent “rules?” If not, then we’re being too mean to ourselves 😉 Easier said than done, though, of course!

    I can’t think of any rules off the top of head that irk me. The rule about never using passive voice always annoyed me, but that was mainly before I understand that “was” doesn’t necessarily equal passive voice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahaha, these rules where part of why I didn’t always make many friends in my creative writing classes. And identifying passive voice is still something I have a weirdly difficult time doing.

      Like

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