After reading a friend’s personal writing rules, then following the bread crumbs back to Ash Autumn’s rules, I wanted to play the game. I found myself getting verbose, so I separated my rules into two parts.

rules of passion

  • Write what you crave to be writing. Write what you’d exult in reading.
  • Don’t settle for less than gut-wrenching, eye-popping emotion. (As my partner said: Make it hurt more.)
  • Tell stories that could be real.
  • Enjoy the journey. Every step taken, every word written, every thing learned, every new experiment is useful in some way. Don’t scoff at the past or your old work – it helped get you here. Value everything, but cling to nothing.
  • Be loyal to the truth of the story, even if that goes against publishing trends, majority preferences, and writing advice. You can tell in your gut if it’s right or if it’s wrong.
  • If you don’t write it, no one will.

rules of craft

  • Stay true to your unique voice, but let it evolve with time and experience.
  • It doesn’t have to get published. It just has to get written.
  • Don’t be afraid to rewrite. A lot. Seriously.
  • Diversify. Shatter stereotypes. Twist tropes, warp clich├ęs.
  • Don’t let anybody be “evil.” Minimize redshirts. Make each named character a real person with sympathizable motivations, even (especially!) the antagonists.
  • Make the worldbuilding solid, detailed, and believable. It doesn’t have to be shown in the story, but it needs to hold its structure and individuality under inspection.
  • Get feedback from all sorts. Whatever skill or information you lack, find someone who has it in spades and get their opinion/help.
  • Take criticism gratefully and run it through your logic filters. After thinking hard, make changes that make sense.

What are your rules for engaging with creativity and producing your form of art? Share them in the comments, or do a blog post of your own!

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