When learning how to write, it basically comes down to an extensive series of writing rules. Don't do this. But don't forget to do that, and so on. As I continued my education in creative writing, I finally recognized the faulty "rules" my English teachers taught me. But now that I teach writing, it's time to get rid of some of these "rules" once and for all.
1. Flipping to the end of a chapter to see how long it is makes you a bad reader.
This rule was given to me by my seventh grade English teacher. I had always considered myself a reader, but I always flipped to the end of the chapter, just to see how long it was---to see if I had time to finish it. I was heartbroken to learn that I was a bad reader. Mr. Holliday was so adamant about that particular "rule." By the way, I still flip to the end of a chapter while I read. And you know what? I'm still a good reader.
2. Using contractions in writing means you're unintelligent.
This "rule" was from the same teacher as with #1, Mr. Holliday. His reference for this "rule" was a fiction book he had been reading. Apparently there was a ransom note without contractions. The investigator or detective knew the kidnapper was intelligent because of his lack of contractions. Can I just say that this is one of the most ridiculous things I've heard. In fact, the Chicago Manual of Style recommends using contractions. It can give writing a more personal, sincere feeling. A lack of contractions can make a piece feel stuffy, stiff, cold, distant.
3. In a research paper, the end of every sentence needs to have a reference or citation.
This one was from my ninth and tenth grade English teachers. Whenever we were assigned a research paper, they required us to cite every sentence. That didn't leave any room for our own writing, only direct quotes or paraphrasing from the sources we referenced. I later learned that that is not a research paper; it is merely a listing of facts. There is no voice nor a writer. There is no original thought.
As you continue your writing projects, remember that not all the "rules" you've been taught are correct. It is important to differentiate them for yourself. However, sometimes you can't break the writing rules until you know them and you understand why they're rules in the first place.
This week, I took the time to participate in a free webinar all about starting and growing a successful blog. I saw an ad for it on Facebook, and I thought, Why not? It's free!
Let's just say I was not disappointed. It's actually a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to/is currently writing a blog. No matter what your blog topic, this free webinar gives you actionable items to grow your reach meaningfully.
Out of respect for Jeff Goins' business, I won't go into details about everything I learned, but I will give you a bit of a vague synopsis. Goins goes through three major steps to creating a successful blog. He also talks about the 5 blogging personalities, and it was interesting to try to figure out where I fit in.
What I liked most about this webinar is Goins' honesty. He doesn't try to hide that he will pitch his full class. He's upfront about it, and I appreciate that. After the hour-and-a-half webinar, I feel better equipped to start growing my blog and reaching the right audience.
Here's one of my favorite quotes he shared. After all, everyone has something valuable to share.
"What's obvious to you is amazing to others."
If you have some time to spare or you can free up some time, this is a webinar worth watching and participating in. You'll walk away with a little bit of hope and the motivation to start working hard to achieve your goals.
If you've done this webinar, let me know what you thought! I'd love to compare notes (and, yes, I took 2 1/2 pages of notes).
You can sign up here: https://goinswriter.clickfunnels.com/webinar-registration
I'm an adjunct creative writing professor and freelance writer, but I dream of being a published novelist. This is my journey.