Rules Are Made to be Broken- Sarah Young

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.

White Space-Terah Motskus

The white space stares back at me and then begins to fill my mind. And suddenly I have
been placed in a white room, with white walls, floors, and a white ceiling. I am dressed in white
from head to toe sitting in the middle of the room. “You have to create a story.” “You have to
write something whose words will last longer than you do.” But how does one write when all
there is to see and feel and hear is white space…
So maybe you’re a writer who like me, cringes at words like creative and ingenious.
Who, when faced with a white page, finds yourself in a claustrophobic abyss where the only
feeling is the overwhelming desire to escape. Or maybe you’re not. But if you do find yourself
there in that white room there is a way to break free.

First- give yourself permission to write. Permission to paint with colors you haven’t seen
or about things you haven’t experienced. Permission to open and spill your heart onto the white
space. It can’t be someone else’s colors and it can’t be their heart plucked out beating and red- it
has to be yours. So, give yourself permission to fill the white space with you.

Second- don’t be afraid of the you that will appear. The walls might fill with a mess of
colors that splatter, dripping down the cracks and spaces. The white might suddenly turn to
black. It might swallow you whole. But don’t run from what appears. Let it come out of your
fingertips and let it be from your soul. The hardest part is starting. Put one finger to the wall and
then don’t stop what starts to leak out.

Third- Forget the rules of the white space. We have been so conditioned to what message
or painting the white space should receive. “Is the period in the right spot?” “Does the paragraph
have a clear topic sentence and a transition sentence?” “Be sure to include alliterations or
metaphors in your poem!” In the effort to create intelligence and diversity we all end up with
slightly different versions of the same thing. And this space becomes a place where it is safer not
to try because then I cannot be wrong.
Let go of that.

Be wrong.

Be beautifully wrong.

Writing Rehab- Madeline Clark

Sprinting, cutting, back to running, trapping the ball, looking for the open man, moving
again, touching the ball, one big pass across the field, sprinting again, chest heaving, open space,
ready for the pass, scoring!

Writing, like soccer, is a series of events. It isn’t just a onetime
occurrence and then you’re done forever. It takes practice and time. No elite athlete has ever
just decided, “Today I am the best there is to be at this.”

They take the time to hone their
capabilities. In order to obtain that goal in writing you have to be willing to try.
Personally, I hated practicing. There were so many rules and things to remember. Do I
use a colon or a semicolon? Should it be is or are? I strive for perfection in all that I do, which
can cause exceeding stress. Then I realized the only rules you have to abide by are your own.

I am writing for myself, not anyone else. Then my hand began to move, unleashing my feelings
and thoughts. The words flooded to my mind, and had to be set free. No restrictions, just me, while
the world faded out around me.

Writing is for each of us.

We don’t need to worry about rules and regulations. Be free of your own stringent
expectations. Write whatever you feel, when you feel it.

As with everything you may hit a road block with your writing. I hit a road block playing
soccer and ended up having knee surgery. My one love, my passion gone in a second. Anger and despair were my constant companions. Then physical therapy happened. I relearned to walk
again one step at a time. Sometimes in writing we experience surgical repair and think that the
end is at hand.

“I will never write again. I quit,” you think. Don’t give up. Sometimes you just
need a little bit of writing rehab. Something to get you out of that bed and trying again. It
doesn’t have to be huge. Like with my knee surgery, it can just be small, baby steps to start.
Little by little you can regain your confidence and run free again. Never let the road blocks stop
your writing.

Your thoughts are unique and important. You may come back a year later and say, “Oh, gosh. What
was I thinking?” That is good. Great even. It means that you are practicing and developing as a
writer. Never stop practicing. Never stop trying. Take the needed baby steps before you can
run. Writing is an expression of you. Find what works for you, because you are one in a million
and what works for me might not work for you. Try new things and go outside your comfort

Never stop trying and you will never stop succeeding.

Dreams of Straw-Kelly Strang

Girl in thought

    Dreams have a way of creeping up on us. Unexpected. Unsolicited. Unreasonable. Unpredictable. Unwanted. But these are nightdreams, daydreams, dreams for sleep.

Isn’t it interesting that we use that same word, dream, to describe our deepest, personal, raw wishes and desires? Those things that we want most, coupled and juxtaposed with those things we often resent and despise and detest and fear.

Night dreams can be sweet, but they are fleeting, and flutter from our groggy minds, out the window and far far away. They don’t last unless they are unpleasant. In this case, they root into our minds. Poisonous plants eating away at our real dreams, those things that we long for.

Our true dreams take work.

They take deliberate action, which may be why our night dreams escape us. There is no possible way to make them real. No amount of work or wishing will make them tangible, but the reason nightmares stick like tar in our brains is because the thought of making these dreams a reality scares us more than we care to admit.

Writing, is for me a dream. Ideas dance and flutter in and out of thought, taunting me with their masqued greatness, and turning from gold into a pile of dust the moment I try to spin them into something worthwhile.

Truly great ideas need to be spun, like straw into gold. It takes time and effort to string these straw like ideas into cohesive thoughts. It takes refinement to burn away the excess, those things that crowd the good. Leaving these ideas to fester too long without the tender care of a master’s weathered hands will result in a useless, tangled pile of rotting straw.

These golden dreams require malleability and flexibility in order to spin out something beautiful. Often times, molten ideas take a mind of their own and craft themselves, through the hands and care of a master, into something unexpected and sweet.

Craft your straw into gold.

Identify your dreams and make them real.

Through the course of our experience, our straw may become something unexpected, a beautiful masterpiece we didn’t have the capacity to dream up on our own. You may have lamented “if I only had a brain” during your writing process in the past, but as you utilize the time necessary to make this happen, you will realize you have a treasure waiting to be transformed inside of you.

Write to Finish the Story- Kasey Bunker

Follow Your Dreams

I’m currently running through the thick woods. My legs and arms are scraped from the branches hanging out over the almost nonexistent path.  My toe is throbbing from the amount of times I have stubbed it on a log blocking my way. My heart is pounding and I am running from something. I break through the trees into an opening in the woods. The light blinds me as I survey my surroundings. I hear footsteps behind me and pull out the necklace I know that they are looking for. I bury the necklace and just finish lowering the rock when two men break through the trees into the clearing. I suddenly feel a prick in my neck and realize I have been hit with a stun dart. As soon as I hit the ground, I jolt awake and a wave of relief with a hint of disappointment rushes over me as I realize it was all just a dream, but that I’ll never know why the necklace was so special.

If I ever have the thought cross my mind that I have no imagination or creativity, a dream like this does an excellent job of combating that.

One of the biggest motivators for me to sit down and write is the desire to record my dreams and maybe even continue the story. It’s as if my brain has already graciously given me half of a story and all I have to do is wrap it and nicely tie a bow on top. Using your dreams to write opens up so many more possibilities.

Try keeping a dream journal and every morning waking up and quickly jotting down your dream. This will help you better remember what crazy adventures you experienced throughout the night.

Later when you sit down to write, open up your dream journal and use one of them for a prompt.

Write to finish the story. Write to describe exactly what happened in dramatic detail.

Write to interpret. Before you know it you could be writing about your exposed fears and desires.What really matters to you.

Who knows? Maybe you will discover something new about yourself that you didn’t know before.