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Rules for writing - 2

There are no rules

Writing novels is a job like any other. There is work to be done, deadlines to meet, professional genre, word-length, grammar and language standards to hit. But it's a job with no boss to set those standards for you, only readers to serve. As such, it's a job you have to design for yourself in order to reach your goals.

You have to discover if you are a plotter (plan each story out in advance, chapter by chapter) or a pantser (write by the seat of your pants, no outline, just a vague idea of where you want the story to go). Do you work better in a dedicated space (home office, rental suite, shed in the yard) or do you prefer to write everywhere (coffee shop, airport lounge, library). What about the best time of day? Are you up at 4am with the Navy Seals, scratching out your work before the rest of the world wakes up? Or waiting for the kids to go to by bed and creating by the proverbial candlelight? Do you write every day, or in inspired bursts of creativity? Do you need a specific word-count to hit or a number of pages or chapters to complete for each day?

There are an infinite number of ways to design a writer's working routine. If you're curious, check out the Writer's Routine podcast. Dan Simpson has interviewed hundreds of published authors. He takes each interviewee on a deep dive of their process covering everything I listed above as well as asking things like where does your inspiration come from, what do you do to overcoming writer's block, and even what software do you write on.

The software question is particularly interesting. I'm an organized writer. I love a checklist and an outline. At one time, I believed that my writing would be better if I adopted a writing-specific software program called Scrivener. I was excited about this purchase. Scrivener had amazing outlining tools, a system for capturing character and settings research, even a way to load a cover and output your novel in a format for easy uploading on the Amazon Kindle. But, as I listened to the writer's routine podcasts, I learned that almost all working writers simply use Microsoft Word.

I was overthinking it and making my process more complicated than it needed to be.

I've listened to a hundred of Dan's podcasts and even though there are some common elements across writer's routines, the most common element of all is that everyone ends up designing a system that is unique to them. No two authors do their work exactly the same way. And I've written enough that I now have a fully-developed system to keep myself on track.

So Rules For Writing number 2 is this; there are no rules for how to do the job, only the ones you make up for yourself.

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