The internet is awash with reams of sanctimonious shit about writing.

Endless rules about what must be done, how you should behave, what you must show and what you must tell. The fact adverbs will bring about the death of your story and end your writing life, by leaving you open to broad ridicule. Don’t say anything other than said, use everything but said. Don’t use was but also shy away from complicated words, simplify your prose. Cut, slash and burn. Don’t over describe but also see show don’t tell, in the first sentence of this paragraph…Avoid the ellipsis at all costs, stick to the Oxford list, and murder your darlings.

The cobblers is almost infinite, in the main self-righteous, and, worst of all, utterly meaningless. So stop worrying about it, sit down, and write.

There aren’t ten rules. There aren’t any at all. So fuck the rules. Everything is subjective, the whole industry – from writing, to editorial, to publishing. One day a story will be great, then a bus will get missed, a cat will die, or someone will feel grumpy, horny, angry – whatever – and the same tale will be in a slush pile.

“Literary elitism is the last refuge of literary elitists.”

Do you think Jack Kerouac gave a toss about any of this as he belted out the original scroll of On The Road? Or Hemingway, as he sat down at his typewriter and bled? No. The true art of writing is to let a story pour out of you in all of its awful glory and work on it until you’re happy with it. That’s it. That’s writing.

Of course, when it’s finished you’ll believe what you’ve written is terrible and should be burned, the ashes buried in a pile of horse dung in an unmarked grave drenched in acid, but the writing is done and its ownership changes. The rest of the crap which occurs is a dark art we should all stop caring about. All of these rules, the conformities, they come from opinion. None of it hard and fast, certainly not fact. And the sad truth? The limitless dross arises from writing about writing. Cock to it, I say. Ninety percent of what’s out there is pure snobbery and the rest speculation.

If you are writing to run from people, good. Hide away and build a world you’re happy in because somebody else will be happy there too. If you are writing because you love people, good. Let everyone know why and share it.

Don’t worry about grammar beyond the basics, these aren’t the laws of physics you’re dealing with. If you want to start a sentence with and, do it. Because no one can stop you. And don’t worry about all the technical terms for participles and tenses, if you can tell yourself a story it’ll come out just fine. Literary elitism is the last refuge of literary elitists.

Never let yourself be put in a bracket, pegged in a genre. The entire industry around writing has become incredibly lazy in this respect because of a need to categorise for the ease of sales and marketing. Look at the meaningless comparisons beginning with ‘this book is the next [insert the last book which is the nearest thing you can think of over morning coffee]’. It’s dross, so shun it and be proud to do so.

You mustn’t pander to anyone. Not a reader, an agent, nor a publisher. Be civil, be professional, and be yourself, but never let the insecurity which is an inevitable part of a writer’s psyche turn you into a feeble and submissive creature, quaking before superior beings. They aren’t all that.

Lastly, after you’ve read this remember there are no rules when it comes to writing. Stop reading all the bollocks and either open a book and enjoy it, or sit down and put pen paper. Whichever of the two you choose, enjoy the freedom because that’s the point of writing and nothing else matters.

2 thoughts on “Fuck the rules. Write.

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