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?
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.