I’ve been thinking about the rules, guidelines, advice, (whatever one may call it) about writing and other forms of creativity. Over my last thirty days of blogging, I’ve learned that I enjoy storytelling and creating a unique atmosphere much more than dispensing advice. I’m not against advice posts because the majority of bloggers I’ve read who write them do it very well. I simply don’t see myself in that category.
This afternoon I watched an artist chat on Blab that further clarified some of these ideas. Four artists were on an informal panel, sharing inspiration, advice and insights about various aspects of their creativity. The points that stood out to me the most prominently were truths that all creative people encounter, such as the way we are often our own worst critics and the need to combat this by forgiving ourselves for our flaws. I commented via chat that the flaws that show our humanity. Perhaps we should embrace them and not shun the imperfect. Even if flaws are the cracks through which we see the light, I’d much rather stay out the darkness.
They also discussed the evolution of their own creative processes over time. When asked if they assigned themselves a particular genre or style, the collective answer was no. They opted to let life take them where it will and allow the process to develop in an organic manner. In short, never pigeonhole oneself. Emotions were also mentioned in a question of how much of it runs from the artist into a current work.
It was at that juncture in the conversation that I realized I’d stumbled upon my own answer to the question of guidelines and rules. Aside from universally observed and necessary rules such as spelling and grammar, I think that the only rule of writing should be passion. All other rules can go by the wayside if one desires. If what I write bores me or doesn’t elicit any passion in me as I create, I know readers will most likely find it hard to stir up much enthusiasm. Writing and art in general are collaborative processes. Both writer and reader bring interest, imagination and passion to the table as they prepare to feed from each other’s energy in a symbiotic experience.
So write passionately. Do away with rules that hold you down, expectations you feel obligated to meet if they’re blocking your flow. Often my characters take over and push my carefully laid plans aside. I rejoice when this happens because the creativity and passion it took to wreck my plans mean something is working very well. Passion is present. Go with it and rejoice all the more when everything feels delightfully out of control. I believe that control can sometimes be an illusion that prevents the joy from appearing in our work. In a lot of cases, the weirder my stories become, the happier I am. Write what makes you happy. Draw what brings you elation. Be who you were meant to be so the audience with whom you were created to commune can hear your voice and add theirs to the melody.