Are the rules of writing killing your creativity?

I read a lot of writing blogs and a lot of them tell you what not to do.

Too much info-dump, too much description, too much dialogue, not enough dialogue, not enough tension.

You need to outline, you need to read (or don’t read) while you are writing.

I tried to write minimally so that I wouldn’t have to cut too much later on. As well, I wanted to show the good parts of the story and not have excess information.

All of these were good goals for my edited drafts. Not for my first draft.

As I work on my NaNoWriMo I am overwriting. I am describing the hell out of things. I am using purple prose. I am letting my characters over-think their actions (which actually started to annoy me, because one character could not stop talking about her divorce). I am letting scenes go past the point of necessary and into character development. It’s not only padding my word count, but I think it’s making my book better. (I will know for sure when I get to editing early nextn year).

My characters are better developed. I learned a few things about them I wouldn’t have otherwise. I will have more to work with when I edit and cut. And hopefully I won’t have to add scenes, I find when I stick to only writing what is necessary to the storyline I skip important information. It’s hard to go back and add details. You lose the voice of the story.

I came across the idea in “Writer’s Gym” by Eliza Clark.

What are your rules you have in mind when  you write a first draft? Would your writing go more smoothly if you let those rules go?

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14 thoughts on “Are the rules of writing killing your creativity?

  1. OK I went all crazy in dreaming up my comment and just wrote my own blog post, inspired by this blog post! But really it’s all a comment meant for you so you should read it. http://bit.ly/tW3PDz

    In short: YES!!! :) The rules of writing are really the rules of editing. You can’t edit what you haven’t written. Write first, edit second.

  2. I always write too much. I put in backstory that I know will be cut later, but at least I have it there for reference on that first draft. I’ve never really outlined, but I need a bit of structure to keep me focused. Sometimes I’ll go off in a bizarre direction and meander a bit to see if I like it. If it’s good I’ll keep going, if it sucks, it gets cut.

    Letting the muse play a little is always fun. ; )

  3. Love this topic. Nicely done! I, too, have fallen prey to rule trauma… ;) I learned quickly that outlining only works for me minimally. I write best when I let it all flow out, knowing the beginning, end, and major characters, then letting the rest simply happen. This method may require more energy and time during the revision process…but it makes for a better book, in my case. To each their own. I say rules are optional guidelines. Pick what works for you!

  4. Great post! I don’t hold too tightly to rules for a first draft. I make sure I stick with only one POV per scene. I try to have goal, motivation, and conflict (GMC) for my main characters from the get-go, but that doesn’t always happen. I always just write because I find that it’s easier to cut a ton of words that to scramble to find the right ones to flesh out scenes after I’ve written them.

  5. I write a ton! Seriously detailed and chalked full of goodness. Then I need to chop, chop, chop. I went and listened to a mystery author speak once and she talked about writing the first draft with a skeleton draft. Just jotting down a line telling her to filling more info there. I can’t do that at all. I write it thick with every sensation, every feeling, anything you can think of the first time through. Makes for a lot of pages to work through later. Per Alyssa, that’s a lot of frosting!

  6. Loved the post, Asrai! And it looks like I have another book to add to my ‘must read’ list. I like that whole concept. Sometimes I even use it while writing a book. Do I have rules? Just two…spend enough time creating my characters…and finish what I’ve started. Sometimes (NOT very often) that means that the first draft is fairly close to ready. Other times it means that I’ll write a couple of sentences for a scene…that needs major editing later. It just seems like each book is different and I can’t always apply the same techniques that worked for others. :)

  7. Yay for you making good progress with your NaNo novel! I don’t stick to any rules when drafting. The more relaxed I am, the more the writing flows. I love writing with my co-authors (children’s fun spooky mysteries) because we bounce ideas off each other, laugh and joke around, and come up with some wild ideas. No, I don’t think it’s good to put a leash on our creativity!

    • Kristen Lamb suggested it, and it was so fitting I had to use it. I have to work my way up to be as funny as some of the other Wana1011s, but I’ll get there.

  8. Pingback: Friday Favorites – Writing Advice and Hot Men « Shannyn Schroeder's Blog

  9. Pingback: Shannyn Schroeder | Author

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