This video is a continuation of my vlog on making sense of writing advice. In the previous vlog, I had pointed out that not all rules suit all people, so this time I shared the rules I apply the most to my own writing.
Here’s the script, for those of you who don’t like the video thing…
My Five Writing Rules
I decided it’s time to get back to those writing rules. Previously, I talked about how no writing rule is ever hard and fast for every writer, but I thought it might be interesting to share my personal rules because those very much dictate the reading experience of my writing.
Man. I actually have a lot of them. But let’s start with 5.
1) In rough drafts, there are no rules.
For me, rough drafts are where my mind can really take wing and fly, so I try to write without worrying about anything. I write for me. What I find interesting. What I want to enjoy. And if that means breaking a million so-called writing rules, that’s fine. I rein it all back in later.
2) Always Rewrite.
Since I just let my words bleed onto the page, the end result is… Okay bad. It’s bad. Really. Really. Bad.
But I expected that and it’s okay. I really don’t believe in perfect first drafts. Because in between the million things that don’t work in the rough draft, there are the hundred things that do, and I wouldn’t have found them if I kept stressing about the quality of my output.
So I take those things I like and I build the story again from scratch, using those things as my foundation. And the result of that draft is miles better.
3) Wait for it…
My writing process is filled with stops and starts. I’ll do an intensive writing period where I’m rough drafting a book. As soon as it’s done, though, I set it aside for at least a month. Then I spend time furiously rewriting the same story. And another rest period. Then I revise. And wait. And edit. And wait… And so on.
Because when it comes to perfecting my work, I need distance from it. Distance means time away.
4) Edit and edit some more.
When it comes to getting the book ready for publishing, I’m a bit of an editing fiend. If drafting is for myself, editing is for my readers. So I’ll go over the manuscript again and again, doing my absolute best to make sure the readers have at least a little taste of my experience as I wrote it.
This is also the place where a story goes from meh to amazing, so I go over it again and again until I find nothing more to change. And then I bring outside help in to see if they can’t find anything I missed.
5) At some point, I have to stop.
This is probably the hardest rule for me to follow. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my work, so I could find better ways to do things and say things and better places for commas almost indefinitely, if I let this perfectionistic streak run amok.
So there’s a point where I know I’m satisfied enough and where any further tweaking is superfluous. That’s where I stop.
It’s hard, though. And that’s where I miss having a publisher who can come in and pull the manuscript from my grabby hands.
That’s it for today! What is your biggest writing rule?