When I was just learning how to write, they gave me so many rules. It was very important to keep writing professional. For example, only in personal narratives was I allowed to use first person voice. Every other paper was to be in the third person with pronouns of people far removed from the paper. Second person, or using “you” was simply out of the question. My sentences had to be simple; there was little room for creating complexity. Using contractions made my writing appear sloppy and unrefined. It was important to keep my writing tasteful meaning my personality couldn’t come through. I even had one teacher who wouldn’t let me use “to be” words. You try writing an eight page research paper without the use of is, are, were, am, or was. Let me tell you it was not easy. And let’s not forget, starting a sentence with “and”, “or”, or “but” was one of the more serious writing sins. But, it was just so easy; there are some moments where “however” just doesn’t fit.
So many rules. That just broke the “every sentence has to have a verb and subject to be complete” rule. Now I understand that if I were to read an entire paper of incomplete sentences, or run-on sentences, I would be tempted to burn my eyes out with acid so I never have to put my brain through such a trauma again. However, there are some moments where breaking these rules has effect, it has a purpose, it adds meaning to the piece. Did you see what I did there? I didn’t include “and” in my list! Also, I broke the fourth wall and addressed the audience. Man oh man I am such a rebel.
This rebellion was something I struggled with in elementary and middle school writing. I have always had such an expressive, creative mind that fought to be heard. My voice was not going to be trampled down just because some English teacher told me I couldn’t write some way. Did this cause heartbreak? You bet your sweet biddies it did. My stubborn attitude revolting against the rules left me with work I was proud of but grades that didn’t quite measure up. My first C ever, in all of school, came because my first research paper did not seem to impress my English warden; sorry, I mean teacher. It was a traumatic experience I may still be a little bitter about.
The bottom line is this: sometimes the rules teachers give us to help us become competent writers may be the things holding us back from soaring through the page. It’s as if these rules are a cobra. They squeeze and constrict and pinch and choke and wring and quash all creativity out of us. By the time we have enough understanding of writing, all enthusiasm has flown away like a leaf in the wind. It’s brittle and broken, almost dead. If the wind gets any stronger, then it may just disintegrate never to be seen again.
So here is my challenge.
Break the rules! Find joy in writing again.
Most importantly, make your writing yours. Don’t you care for one second if your writing isn’t approved by anyone else. What matters is that you created it. You took the time to make art, and that is where the beauty is found in writing.