Breaking the Rules
What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?
Sorry, I’m a few days late with my response, but here’s my take on the subject anyhow.
There are many rules to writing. If you don’t believe me just pick a copy of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style or William Zinser’s On Writing Well. For here, among many pages of good advice, you will find more rules than you could possibly ever break.
Then there are the more nebulous rules of creative writing that deal with such things as plot structure, storyline, character development, antagonists, protagonists and so on. Good advice on these matters can be found all across the blogosphere, as well in many books and periodical publications. The information overload here is astounding, but for some good all around advice, you might want to go here or here or here. The list is endless, really.
However, for better or worse, I’m going to talk about a slightly different subject matter, and that is writing for the content mills. This activity goes against every grain of creative writing advice in so many ways that it’s not funny, but I have to say that my foray into this gray area, helped solidify my writing, plus it earned me tens of thousands dollars over a five year period.
I didn’t get rich doing this, for if you added up the time spent, I barely made minimum wage, but yet during this sometimes grueling activity, I learned how to put a short article together, plus I got in the habit of meeting a deadline. And possibly the best benefit of all, was that I acquired self confidence. Seeing my work published at places like USA Today Online more than made up for the necessary rejections and disappointments that accompanied this learning process.
Now that most of my effort goes into writing short and long fiction, I can look back on this school-of-hard-knocks for the limited success that I have had in this more difficult endeavor.
Here is one rule that you definitely don’t want to break.