We have all heard the statement: Take the time to learn the rules, then you can leave them behind or break them, or something to that affect. My thought on that is: which rules are we talking about? The rules of language, grammar, word usage, or poetry and prose. In all reality, the rules differ for each of us on some levels because each of us came to write via our own individual path. And each of us picked up different rules along those paths, depending on who, or what, we might have had contact with along the way.
Some of us have read books on writing, others have taken courses, classes, workshops, or seminars. And some of us have degrees. And all of those things contain the personal biases of the author, teacher, or speaker. The most important aspect of all of that, as it pertains to this discussion of the moment, is that we also have personal biases, and because of them, chose which pieces and parts, of whatever information we gathered up, to keep and continue to use.
This discussion is about rules. Not the rules of language, or writing, but the ones that you have personally chosen for yourself and whatever form of writing you do. In other words, what do you make sure you include or exclude from whatever you write?
This may take some thought on your part. We are not always consciously aware of the rules we create for ourselves. We simply engage them, often silently, or without a lot of thought process. One way to approach it is to allow yourself to think of what particular things turn you off in what others write? What habits upset you when you see them while reading? And the reverse works just as well: when reading what makes you sigh and nod your head in agreement and satisfaction?
Recently, Viv used the word meticulous about something I had written. She unwittingly threw me back into my life before writing (yes, there actually was a time like that). I was canning pickles while a friend kept me company. Afterward, she told me that I was both methodical and meticulous about what I was doing. At first, I just laughed because those two words didn’t have much to do with my chaotic and fly by the seat of my pants existence. She realized that I had no comprehension of what she was talking about, so sat down and pointed out exactly what she meant. Whew! I certainly wasn’t aware of all the things she noticed while we were yakking.
When Viv jolted me back to that memory, I realized that the same thing was true of my writing. I am very methodical about what I post, meticulous might still be a bit of a reach. I want to be understood. That is my first rule and it comes from experiences in my childhood.
Like Annell, I started writing to see if I could figure out just how my own thought processes worked, figuring if I could see them in action, I might get some clues. Even after all of these years of playing with words, that remains my main objective. And I am thinking that my methodical approach to each of my posts might actually appear as meticulousness. I want to be clear, so find myself shaking my head when I can’t quite grasp what I am reading. Carelessness is responsible for many mistakes, that and rushing, so being careful and taking time to make sure I have been as clear as possible are definitely personal rules I have established for myself.
What that means is that I read and reread, then reread again. Often scratching out and rewriting in the process. I may start out with something that is perfectly okay, but I’m not satisfied with okay. I want something beyond okay and my personal rules were established to gain just that.
And those are the things I would ask you to take a look at and write about for this discussion. What are your personal rules, established by you, for your own writing experience? What things do you need to do and see before you are satisfied with what you have written? And no, I don’t mean finished. I agree with Viv, most poems are never really finished. They are often current drafts. Accepting that was a hard rule to establish, lol.
Podium is open.