Inspired by Elmore Leonard’s own ten rules of writing, The Guardian asked successful authors like Michael Moorcock and Joyce Carol Oates to submit their own lists of writing do’s and don’ts. You can read them all here.
While most of these are extremely useful – and it’s always fun to see how your favorite writer thinks – it got me to thinking about rules that aren’t so useful, and how things that we once thought were set in stone have a tendency to change as we advance in our understanding of our art.
I used to feel like I couldn’t write without a formal outline. I felt like that was the way “real” writers wrote. Despite that, it just didn’t work for me, and eventually I became brave enough to abandon that rule in favor of my own methods. I’ve since had several of my personal rules come and go as my writing has matured. What about you? How have your own personal rules for writing changed? What’s the most dramatic reversal or abandonment of a rule that you’ve experienced in your career? Have any managed to survive the passage of time?