Breaking the Rules

Breaking the Rules

Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.
– Pablo Picasso

For the past few years, I’ve been attempting to unlearn the “rules” of writing. In part, this is unlearning craft lessons long taught me, but mostly it’s been a slow path towards a basic concept: intuition. If, as an artist, you’re not in touch with you’re intuition, you’re screwed.

I lost track of my intuition for a while. I was working on a project that made me miserable, but rather than stop, I kept pushing my way through it because that’s what I’d long been told to do. Write through the pain is a common trope in the writing world. If you’re unable to write through it, then you probably aren’t really a writer.

That’s what I thought. But then a small voice inside me asked: If you don’t enjoy it, then why do it?

Good question.

That little voice was my intuition. And it was telling me to quit. Another rule, like writing through the pain, that I struggled with. You don’t quit. You just keep forging ahead.

But in the end, I decided to listen to my intuition. Because honestly, the older I get, the more I realize how clueless we all are. And to value the judgments and opinions of other people more than my own is to give other people a tremendous amount of power they likely don’t deserve.

A funny thing happened when I quit that miserable project: the creative floodgates opened wide, joy floating in along with it.

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