Monday, April 27, 2009

The Break Away Moment

I love rules.

I always attended all my college classes unless I was sick. I always tried to make the teachers like me all through high school by staying quiet in class. I never broke a rule if I could help it. I'm what one would probably call rigid or boring. Ask my former bookstore partner how I was about reordering according to the charts I made.

But I'm changing. I'm learning to be flexible. I'm learning there are many ways to go from start to finish. I'm learning that if I'm to write a book I enjoy writing--I have to let go.

I had an interesting discussion after my writer's group today with another woman who, like me, finds it difficult to write with abandonment. We are so structured about everything we write that each sentence needs to border on perfection before we move to the next.

Well--I'm happy to say--I'm breaking out of that pattern with the manuscript I'm now working on. But it isn't easy. I find myself starting to double check myself and writing from the head and not always the heart --where I think most good plots start from.

Are you breaking any rules today with your writing? What works for you?


T. Anne said...

I'm trying to focus on getting down genuine dialogue and a string of realistic idea's that work for the plot. I'm letting the characters lead the first round, we'll see how it goes.

Lin said...

I like the thought of using the right brain-creative child to write the rough draft and later going with the left brain or careful critic to edit. each in its time are important but first you have to freely write. interesting topic.

Kathryn Magendie said...

Yes! Get out of the way and write...just let the words come, there is plenty of time to edit and rewrite and think about what you've written !

Pat said...

You mean we aren't supposed to edit as we go along? *gasp* Nope - never happen. It's too painful not to edit - it physically and emotionally hurts. How can I write under such duress?!

Cindy said...

Lol, I love rules, too. Maybe that's why I love writing so much, because it seems like a safe way to break the rules. Or at least I do with my characters. I like to write characters that are nothing like me. As far as editing, I totally just go and go and get to the editing at the very last minute. Maybe that's breaking the rules a little because with everything else, I like to make sure it's just right as I go along.

Jan Cline said...

Im a rule follower too - except in my writing. I tend to go the other way and just write without analyzing enough. I guess I should find the happy medium. Interesting post. thanks Terri

Kristen Painter said...

What works for me is what works for the story. If that means breaking a rule, so be it.

Pat's Place said...

I always feel like I am writing with an editor sitting on my shoulder!

Jody Hedlund said...

I think we do need to dig deep into our hearts for our writing and find the passion there. But I also think that if we write by the rules, that eventually they become second nature and they won't hinder our "heart-writing."

Ginger said...

Let your "voice" be heard in whatever you write!

Janna Qualman said...

I'm getting better at it than every before, and it makes me happy! Finding my true voice it so important in making it as a writer.

And I see your word count continues to climb! I can't believe it, Terri, but I'm so thrilled for you!!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Terri, I'm so happy for you and the freedom to write without self-editing! Have you tried pen and paper yet? Sometimes that unlocks the creativity in the brain, plus it's a lot harder to revise when you're not on a computer, so maybe that will encourage your words to flow.

About pretty much break 'em all. :)

Jeannie Campbell said...

apparently i break the rule of not editing until you're done with the first draft all the time. but i'm a rule person, as well..very type A. this is just one i feel a compulsion to break. :)

Renee Collins said...

Oh man, I never was good at keeping rules. Not out of sheer disobedience. Usually, because I wasn't paying attention when they were recited. :)

Writing rules, however are something to be broken. In the first draft, anyway. Get the story out, fix the problems later.

Jessica said...

Woohoo! Break those rules! :-)
I was like you in that I loved school and remained an anonymous, albeit good student.
Your book is coming along so well! Congratulations.

Yolanda said...

Come on Thursday, and you'll see how much we are thinking outside of the box, breaking some rules. ;-)

Structure is a hard thing to break, when we are perfectionist's isn't it Terri? You are very creative and it'll be fun to hear what develops from within you!

Love ya!!!

Greg C said...

I am a rule follower too and believe that if you aren't going to follow a rule, why have it. I am moving ahead with my writing too and trying not to be so critical of myself.

Jill Kemerer said...


I stress out when I stray too far from my rules of writing, but I've learned when to bend or break them. Whatever's best for my book!

Happy Writing!

LisaShaw said...

You've struck a cord with me. I think this is the area for me Terri.

I have written a LOT over the years since my teens. Journaling/writing -- being expressive comes EASILY for me UNTIL I have to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard for SOMEONE TO READ.

Suddenly I'm so concerned about structure, grammaer, flow and so on and you can quickly begin to focus from your HEAD (mind) and not from your heart.

Someone (a few years back) emailed me something to read that she was working on. By the middle of page 1 I could immediately see that it was "head" written and not "heart". There was something very sterile/antheseptic (sp?) about the words and the writing style.

I knew her very well and I could tell that this was not written from her heart. I shared with her, she received my words and went and prayed.

I told her to write without worry. Your post today has brought that back to my remembrance and I am not speaking that BACK to myself -- Lisa, write without worry.

Anyone else need to hear that? Take it and run with it to your paper or keyboard and start writing without worrying.

Love ya Terri.

Julie Gillies said...

Hi there, Terri,
Thanks for stopping by my blog.

What a timely post for me. I happen to be like you...organized, structured...boring! LOL And I've recently sensed the Lord encouraging me to really let go and write with passion and freedom.

Help me, Lord!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

I'd add brown-noser to that initial list. That's what I was called by many a classmate.

Rules! Ah, yes. And, yes, they still haunt me to this day with my writing. So not fair.

I'm going to try and join you in this struggle, Terri. I need to just break away from all the writing rules, too, and write just from the heart. I'll be praying for the both of us to succeed with this.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. I have certain rules I never break but when it comes to writing, lately the rules have flown out the window. I also tend to edit before I should. I usually write a while, then put the book to the side, pick it back up a few weeks later, re-read what I have written, edit a little and then continue. Is that breaking the "editing rule"?

Sassy Granny ... said...

I'm a wee bit slow making my "rounds" this week. I'm usually so structured about what I do, and when I do it. So this represents a bit of mold-breaking for me, too.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that most things that lack flexibility break easily. Been there; done that. So, instead of being a Pine Tree, I'm working on being a Willow.


BeckyJoie at Leaders in Learning said...

I am so with you! (Wink)

Alleluiabelle said...

Hi Terri,

I'm one who definitely writes from the heart. If I was to write any other way, I don't think that I could. I was one that always went by the rules too, very structured, a bit of a perfectionist, but as I've gotten a wee bit older, I've become definitely more flexible in in many things. I agree with Lisa, "Write without worry."


elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I've got a piece I've been trying to rework; it frightens me to delete thoughts ... something about making them better cries out in me. Then again, breaking the rules about "keeping" might prove useful. Thus, a blank screen and endless possibilities therein.