Thursday, April 24, 2014


by Jackie King

Rule-breaking goes against my nature. However, the older I get, the less sure I am that rules and regulations in regard to writing shouldn't sometimes be broken. I’ve seen too many dictates followed without success, and too many broken with astonishing success. It’s advisable, of course to learn the rules until you follow them without conscious thought. Then it's okay to break them.

When you do something contrary to textbook writing rules and then delete that sentence, you may have made a serious error. So be cautious when you decide to discard a paragraph. Leave it for the moment and make the judgment later. (Unless you’re on deadline, when you do whatever is necessary to finish on time.)

Today is one of my uphill-writing days. If I ever had a muse, he’s off shooting pool somewhere. Certainly he’s not sitting on my shoulder whispering words into my ear.

The thought I woke up with this morning on how to continue my current story-in-progress, breaks all of the rules. I can actually hear my old writing teacher’s voice in my head shouting, “YOU CAN’T DO THAT!”

The best writing, IMO, is when an author puts her (or his) heart on the paper. If this sounds messy, it’s because it is. Very. And hard. And exhausting.

I've mentioned to other writers how tired I am after writing. Most agree. The average person, husbands, wives, etc., don’t get this, and there’s no reason they should, unless they also write.

Back when I taught fiction classes I told my beginning students to commit themselves to writing 30 minutes a day. The important thing was to write every day, I assured them.

Several hands always went up. “But, I love writing and want to write for hours and hours,” students would say and most of the class would agree.

“Just make sure you clock 30 minutes. It’s harder than you think,” would be my answer.

The next week at roll call, I’d ask, “Did you write every day?” Few could answer, “Yes.”

No one knows how hard it is to put your heart’s blood on paper. Not until you've actually done this in a consistent manner.

In each class there would always be one or two who ‘got’ what I was saying. Those were the students who became selling authors. You just have to stay with it. You have to plod through the days you wonder what on earth ever made you think that you could write.

Usually I follow the rules. Today I think I’ll break them and see what happens.

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