Following on from Writing Tips #3 and with my interest in this partly inspired by a workshop I gave to my intermediate group a couple of weeks ago, is a list of Rules for Writing from the Guardian. Some bloggers have been getting their knickers in a twist about this, and some have very wisely rejected other people’s rules in favour of their own.
I like to see this sort of thing happening. Part of my reasoning behind introducing my workshop group to the idea of ‘rules for writing’ was to nudge them in the direction of thinking about what was important to them – not to communicate that there’s a set of steps you can follow that will equal interesting and/or publishable work. (Although I do think with very beginner writers some general guidelines about ‘what happens when you do this’ can be helpful in building up confidence).
I think we all edit and draft with a list of rules about where we’re going and how we want to get there. Perhaps ‘values’ would be a better word than ‘rules’ in this context. If reading lists of other writers’ rules gets people disagreeing and thinking about their own, that’s great. Isn’t comparing your own method against someone else’s and comparing your own sets of words to other people’s sets of words one of the ways you develop style, or voice, or whatever you want to call it?
I’m still working on my ‘rules’. They change every day. Wednesday’s rule is Shut Up and Get On With It. What’s yours?