The Most Important Writing Rule

There are so many writing rules out there and plenty of disagreement about which ones are worth adhering to and which ones should just be ignored. Some of the most famous ones are the ‘write every day’ rule and the ‘write what you know’ rule – both of which are widely misinterpreted! But there are plenty of others too and new ones pop up all the time. But I think the most important one has been forgotten somewhere along the way.

Writing is hard. It should be hard because anything worth doing, anything with the potential to change the world, shouldn’t come too easily. Writing is something you work at. Natural talent helps a lot but all writers improve the more they write, and all writers should be keen to improve their craft as they go along, acknowledging their weak areas, feedback from readers and professionals and so on.

What I’ve noticed lately though is that ‘writing is hard’ seems to dominate the writing community more and more. I see a lot of negative memes and posts about writing and it worries me. Writing is hard, don’t get me wrong. From that clumsy first draft where you are crawling through the dark trying to find the plot, to those final, tedious proofreads and edits where you think you will go crazy if you ever have to read through this thing again. Writing is hard because the right words don’t always come easily and writing is hard because sometimes characters take a while to become fully realised and alive. Writing is hard because marketing and advertising are expensive and not within everyone’s reach. Writing is hard because all too often your nearest and dearest don’t support your book babies. We get it. Writing is and should be hard.

But we are forgetting the most important thing, the thing that makes writing less hard and less all of the things mentioned above! Writing should be fun! Writing should be enjoyable. Writing should make you feel better about being human and living in this world. If it’s not fun, not enjoyable, why the hell are you doing it?

I have to admit, I just don’t understand it when I see so many writers moaning about how hard it is to write and how they procrastinate for hours or days at a time, how they have to be dragged kicking and screaming into their writing chair. There are so many memes out there that seem to suggest writing a book is nothing short of torture…

I just don’t get it…

If it feels that bad, if you hate it that much… why are you doing it?

When did the joy of writing and creating worlds get eroded? It’s tough out there, believe me, I know. Low sales and reviews can be soul destroying and jealousy and imposter syndrome creep in when you see other writers doing better than you. No doubt there is a tough side to this. I often say I could happily give up on the publishing and selling side of books, because that is the toughest bit, but the writing bit? Hell no! Not ever… You would have to drag me kicking and screaming from my writing desk and you still wouldn’t win.

Image by fancycrave1 from Pixabay

Writing should be joyous, freeing and life affirming. I couldn’t do it if it made me feel worse. Real life is there for that! Writing is the escape… The chance to disappear and build your own universe, create heroes and villains, twisty plots to make your readers gasp and endings that are just too perfect. It’s not easy, but it should be fun. It should be more than fun. It should be utterly glorious. It should be something that excites you, something that makes you long for the moment you sit down and write…

In all the disappointment, self-doubt, endless edits and fruitless marketing, let’s not forget why we started this. Let’s not forget why we write. The most important writing rule in my opinion is it ought to be fun.

In The Writing Zone…

It’s my favourite place and I love it here. Yes, I am currently well and truly trapped in the writing zone. For anyone who is not sure what I mean by this, imagine being given full access to the thing you love doing the most. Imagine that thing giving you pure, unadulterated joy. Imagine that thing going really, really well and filling you with feelings of satisfaction and excitement. That is how I would describe the writing zone.

Of course, I’m a writer and I write every day if I can. Sometimes life gets in the way and it doesn’t happen. Sometimes I am trapped in the editing zone for what feels like years…This is not so bad. I actually love editing and revising my books. To me, this process is really interesting, as you begin to shape and mould your first splurge of words into something that others can hopefully one day appreciate.

But I have to admit that writing the first draft of a new book is the most fun thing ever, and perhaps the most addictive. If it is going well, and I am well and truly ‘in the zone’, then the book is all I can think about. Here are some signs that I am in the writing zone, with no sign of emerging any time yet…

  • when I am not writing, I am thinking about writing. The book in progress dominates my every waking thought. It follows me around like a daydream I can’t escape from. If I go for a walk, the book is in my head. If I go to bed, there it is again. There is no escaping it and I wouldn’t want to.
  • when I am writing, I’m writing fast. Super fast. It’s been there all day teasing me and making suggestions, so when I finally get at that keyboard, it’s a bit like an explosion. Certainly, it’s messy and there will be plenty to clear up later in further drafts, but right now, speed is everything. I need to get that story out of my head!
  • when in the zone, time does not exist. I don’t even think to look at the time. It’s just not relevant. I will keep going until I feel there is a good place to stop and leave it for tomorrow.
  • I am happy. Really happy. This new book has probably been in my head for years and the book is happy to be getting its turn and the characters are really, really happy to be having their voices heard, and so I am happy too. It gives me an enormous sense of satisfaction and relief to be finally writing a book that has had to wait so long.
  • I’m excited. I kind of hate the start of the day, because normally writing has to wait until the evening. So I feel guilty, but can’t help wishing the day away so that I can get to the end of it and start my writing.
  • the writing is my reward. I can’t allow myself to have this reward until everything else is done. So, the day-jobs, the children, the pets, the husband, the house, the errands all need to be sorted out, before I can allow myself this wonderful indulgence. This is a great motivator because there is no way I am not getting my writing time!
  • I am distracted. There is a running joke in my house that I react to things a few minutes after I’ve heard them…and this is probably true. I’m so distracted by the writing zone, that it’s hard to focus on anything else. I get really forgetful in this state and my family certainly notice it.
  • I feel like myself. I think when I am sucked into the zone, I am more ‘me’ than I am at any other time. Which sort of means, I am multiple ‘me’s’ ? Slightly worrying perhaps, but I think more than anything, writing and loving writing are what make me me. It is the love that has been with me the longest and saved me the most times and provided me with so much it’s impossible to even try to explain.
Basically me!

So, that’s me, ‘in the zone’. I’m working on two new books, (one is the first in a four book series, and the other is the fifth in a sixth book series) at the same time. It’s utterly crazy but I wouldn’t have it any other way.