Can the Rules of Writing Block Creativity?


When I was a young writer in my teens, I just wrote. I wasn’t held back by the writing rules and was free to create my world and take my characters anywhere I wanted. Looking back at the stories, they are muddled with words like “cool” and “stuff.” I had many different words for “said.” I even made a list of “exclaimed, admonished, discerned, and so on. I also described everyone’s feelings and went into depth on their hair and eye color. I made all the rookie mistakes. But there was something there in my primitive writings: a real story. Flawed and in need of a complete rewrite, but it still became the foundation for many years of work.

Today, having education (both formal and self-taught), years of writing practice, mentors, and writing groups, I am a better writer. I know the rules. Well, most of the rules — grammar and word usage still slip me up now and again.

In some ways the writing rules themselves slow my creativity. I second-guess myself now, and obsess about plot, having too much backstory, the general flow, is there too much description, and the list goes on and on.

The rules have there place in creating a well-written fiction, but don’t let them rule over the free flow of creativity.

Are you held back by rules in your writing?


4 thoughts on “Can the Rules of Writing Block Creativity?

  1. Interesting thoughts.

    What is it that makes you see these as ‘Rules’? What, if you were to shift the context, and see these as guidelines? Would you then see these as supporting you in your writing as you use these as your boundary?


    • lifewritermegan

      Thanks for commenting! I see them as rules because I’ve read books and blogs saying you can’t do this or that or that. During my schooling, we read the old timers and an instructor I had really pushed how a story should go.
      However, I prefer to see them more as boundaries too. And those can be crossed! I’ve seen many on the best seller list who write differently than what I’ve been taught and they are quite successful.
      You got my wheels in my head turning. Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. This seems too stupid to mention, but I’ve figured out that rules are for later drafts. Early drafts get blocked if I apply rules to them. Let ‘er rip while you figure out what you’re doing, and where you’re going. After that you can go back and apply rules.

    • lifewritermegan

      Well said. Now only to follow it!! Writing a good piece can be quite the challenge. Thanks for the comment ๐Ÿ™‚

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