WMBTSD Giveaway Day One: September 1, 2007

The Renegade Writer by Linda Formichelli and Diana BurrellToday’s giveaway is…

September 1st: The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success, by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell (Second Edition, Marion Street Press 2005)

And who doesn’t love those Renegade Writers?

I’d like to thank Ed Avis, Publisher of Marion Street Press for sending not just one, but two copies of each Renegade Writer book. Thanks, Ed!

I’d also like to thank the Renegades themselves: Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell. Since we’re doing two of their books in a row, I’ll feature Linda tonight and Diana tomorrow night: Linda Formichelli writes for Redbook, USA Weekend, Health, Women’s Health, Business.com, Writer’s Digest, and other magazines. Linda co-authored The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success and The Renegade Writer’s Query Letters That Rock. Linda lives in Concord, NH, with her writer husband and three cats. Her interests include science fiction, languages & linguistics, Archie Comics, Thai iced tea, and cats. Linda’s website is http://www.lindaformichelli.com, and the Renegade Writer blog is at http://www.therenegadewriter.com.

Here’s the description of The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success: For decades freelance writers have been told to follow the “rules” of the business or risk poverty. Keep your query letters to one page! Don’t call an editor! Accept every assignment you’re given!

Now the truth comes out: Many highly successful freelance writers ignore those basic rules and many others, and even flaunt them to their own advantage.

Authors Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell have published articles in Redbook, Woman’s Day, Men’s Health, Writer’s Digest and scores of other consumer and trade magazines. When they began freelancing they read all the freelance writing books, followed all the silly rules and struggled to get by. Eventually, they realized that certain “rules” didn’t really benefit them. One by one those rules dissolved and were replaced with clever ways to get assignments, get paid more for them, and finish them more effectively.

Formichelli and Burrell share their insights in The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success. This book teaches freelance writers how to break into previously unattainable markets by eschewing the old way of doing things. It explains that freelancers can negotiate for more money and better terms, without risking their careers. It teaches that editors are not the writer-gobbling monsters many freelancers fear, and explains how to establish and foster relationships with these important gatekeepers. In short, The Renegade Writer helps freelancers become renegades and succeed!

The Second Edition of The Renegade Writer is a thorough update to the classic book that has helped thousands of freelance writers make more money. The new edition contains many new “rules” to be broken, updates to the existing rulebreaking ideas, and a new feature: profiles of bona fide Renegade Writers!

To win this copy of The Renegade Writer you must answer the following question in your comment (please only comment once between 00:01 a.m. and midnight on September 1, 2007 Pacific Standard Time — your comment has to be approved first, so submit it and trust that it will go through):

Here’s the Question:

With all this talk about rule-breaking, it seems only appropriate to ask our giveaway participants…are you by nature a rule-breaker or a rule-follower and how does this either serve or not serve you as a writer?

Answer any way you like (between 50 – 500 words) but do answer so you can be entered into the drawing for this book.

P.S. There is no “right” answer to today’s or any day’s question. Please answer in a way that helps you discover something about yourself as a writer. And if you have not already, please read the giveaway rules.

Thank you for participating in the Writer Mama Back-to-School Daily Giveaway! Come back tomorrow to find out who won. I will announce the winner by midnight on September 2nd (and basically follow that rhythm for the rest of the month).


41 Responses to “WMBTSD Giveaway Day One: September 1, 2007”

  1. 1 Shawn September 1, 2007 at 3:59 am

    I’m a rule-follower in life, but a rule-breaker in writing. Funny,
    until right this second (very early morning) I never knew that about myself.

    I think my way is a hard way to be, in writing, since I’m not a naturally talented writer. Only people with that kind of talent can get away with being a rule breaker. I have to really force myself to stay within the rules.

    Thanks for the giveaways. I promoted it best as I could. I didn’t get time to pass the word around as much as I wanted.

  2. 2 Laura September 1, 2007 at 4:20 am

    Good Morning!

    Seems I am the first person up on this bright and cheerful Saturday morning! I have been looking forward to this month’s blogs. Ok, onto answering your question…

    Am I a rule breaker or rule follower, and how does this relate to my writing? I am both. Obviously, I am rule follower, because I follow the rule from high school, and restated the question as part of my answer. I follow the govermental rules, obey traffic laws, and I know that my body listens to the rule of aging and laws of gravity. Rules are guidelines to living.

    I am also a rule breaker. Conventional is something I have never been. My childhood goals were to grow up to be eccentric, and a writer. All my life, I have unconsiously and consiously worked to achieve the former. My interests are outside the norm. I read vorasiously, and eclecticly. I am active in church, but also within the SCA (historical group delving into the Middle Ages). Ice cream for dinner is the favorite of my daughter, Cat, & I. (and I let her dye her hair pink today…)

    Rule following is important in writing. Using writing books, like Writer Mama, helps to learn & hone the craft. Rule breaking means not following the conventional path, the everyday ways, to achieve a successful writing career.

  3. 3 brainymama September 1, 2007 at 5:00 am

    By nature, I am definitely a rule-follower. Right now, as a nontraditional student returning to school for an English degree, being a rule-follower serves me as a writer because it helps me get good grades and attention from the professors. I think being meticulous, particularly over things such as grammar, word choice, and presentation are really important because writers who are careful get noticed and come across as professional. As a beginning freelancer, I think my attention to details and submission “rules” have led to my pieces being accepted for publication. And I think consistently meeting deadlines has earned me brownie points with editors.

  4. 4 Julie Morrison September 1, 2007 at 5:08 am

    Early in life,I naturally followed the rules. It started changing when I was 5, in Kindergarten suffering from IBS. I requested going to the rest room and was granted a pass. The second and third time I asked that day,Miss Mary, my teacher, eyed me suspiciously and denied me access. I slipped away as needed.(Thank goodness!)
    I became an artist. It seems creativity by its very nature continually tests boundaries of the known.
    My motto has been, “There has to be another way besides following the wide groove of those before me.” How can one get fresh ideas in a rut?
    Since hearing the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, I’ve tried to keep an eye out for those roads of opportunity. The trick to being a rule breaker is knowing when to follow them, when to bend them, when to nudge them and when to break them. (I have failed at every phase at some point.) But when it works, the payoff is truly habit forming.
    I found the very title of today’s book intriguing and barely slept all night knowing I would be commenting today. Thank you for a thought-provoking question.

  5. 5 Phoenix September 1, 2007 at 5:11 am

    Hmmmm… I would have to say I’m a rule-follower, especially in this early stage of my career. Mostly it’s because I feel I don’t know enough about how things “should” be done, to know how I can bend/change/tweak that to my advantage. There is a LOT of stuff out there on how things should be done, so at the moment I’m going through all the “Writing 101” stuff I can find and starting with the bits that all agree, or at least recur more than a few times. I figure with a good grounding in that, I’ve a chance of doing it “right” (silly neuroses 🙂

  6. 6 Renee Roberson September 1, 2007 at 5:24 am

    Oh, how I need this book. I am by nature a rule-follower, a shy writer if you will. I’m slowly learning the ropes in the business, and feel I have achieved success on a local level, but now I’m ready to move on and up! My biggest problem is negotiating fees. I know how many wonderful writers are out there, and I’m afraid if I ask for too much money, my assignment will simply be handed to another writer who is willing to take less money for a quality clip. It’s time for me to break out of my shell and become a renegade writer!

  7. 7 Chryselle September 1, 2007 at 6:52 am

    I’m allergic to rules, so I usually make mine as I go along. Breaking into freelance writing taught me that sometimes you can get away with not being teacher’s pet – it’s okay to bend the rules.

    More often than not, sticking by the rules helps you stay in the game. Keep query letters to a page, be nice, do your homework and read the guidelines. All perfectly good rules which make life easier for the writer and the editor.

    Meets my approval 🙂

  8. 8 Donna McDine September 1, 2007 at 7:05 am

    Thinking and doing outside the box has usually been my norm and it has helped me achieve many goals in my life that I firmly believe I don’t think I would have met by following, steps 1, 2, 3, etc., at all times. While it always helps to have a set plan, being able to deviate from it is important so that we don’t develop tunnel vision. Renegade Writer is right up my alley…breaking the rules can definitely be inspiring and thrilling!

  9. 9 Meryl September 1, 2007 at 7:34 am

    Well, recently I tried to break the rules in writing a press release — something more interesting than Company Recognized for Such ‘n Such. Turns out the company prefers things in a traditional way and the final release looks like the rest of them.

    I rarely try to break into magazines because it seems to expend more of a writer’s energy to connect and query than to do work. I find that doing business writing is better since no time is wasted in trying to figure out how to connect with an editor.

    I’m lucky that someone recommended me for a column in a magazine and love working with this magazine. I have a great relationship with my editors and always put their needs first. On occasion, I’ll ask them if there is anything that I do that annoys them and such — they’ve been great in providing feedback. They also gave me an unsolicited testimonial.

    So my rule is to forget queries and network to build relationships. This breaks rules in some areas while it follows rules in other areas.

  10. 10 Beloved MaMa September 1, 2007 at 8:32 am

    I am, by nature, a rule breaker! Don’t you think all of us “creative types” are rule benders and breakers? In fact, I’ve never been one to adhere to the rules of official business…When applying for a job, I will usually call the person in the department who is doing the hiring, rather than go through the HR dept…This has proved successful on several occassions 🙂 I would love to win this book and get a sneak peek inside the world of freelance writing!!!!

  11. 11 Susan Flemmiing September 1, 2007 at 8:33 am

    I’m perfectly willing to follow the rules, until and unless the rules no longer make sense to me. If I come to realize that a particular rule simply doesn’t make sense then anyone would be hard pressed to get me to follow it.

    This can both hinder and help in my writing. Hinder, in that sometimes it takes me a bit longer to make the realization that following a rule has stopped working for me.

    But once that realization is made, it can help because I’ve then freed myself to try new things. And trying new things reaps rewards far beyond just the benefit of not feeling constrained by the rules.

    I can remember having a conversation with my husband once in which I told him, “I don’t think I’m cut out to be a rebel.” My husband gave me this strange look and replied, “Of course, you are, Sue. I’ve always known you were a rebel.”

    So I have this internal conflict sometimes… where I would like to be able to follow the rules and I don’t break rules just for the sake of breaking rules. But I also want the rules to make sense and if they’re don’t make sense or aren’t working, then it’s time to make a change.

  12. 12 Linsey Knerl September 1, 2007 at 8:41 am

    I’m definitely a rule breaker. Not that I don’t like rules.. I just have my own way of doing things, and it really works. My ability to communicate in casual communications makes me more impressive than my intentional writing projects. I tend to revamp things I have done on a whim for more formal submissions. It has really worked so far!

  13. 13 Heather September 1, 2007 at 9:13 am

    I’ve been a rule-follower since birth. In fact, I’m quite sure I never once smeared my face with spaghetti sauce or got my clothes dirty when I played outside. I’ve always been a “pleaser,” wondering every time I opened my mouth what the other person was thinking of me. Sounds like a dull way to live, but I always had plenty of friends and I never got into trouble (though occasionally I made a very nice doormat). There was one aberrant year in high school when I tried to break out of my shell to be a rebel without a cause. That landed me in a new school, a different state, living with my other, stricter parent. But oh, I did have fun that year…

    In writing, I’ve been a rule-follower all the way, and for the most part, it has served me well. I follow guidelines to the letter in hopes that in the worst-case scenario the editor might think, “This is the sorriest piece of drivel I’ve ever read, but I have to hand it to her, she did follow the guidelines perfectly.” The reward then would be a somewhat kinder rejection letter. In fact, I’ve never received an unkind rejection, and that is a definite plus for someone like me. One of those “rejections from hell” would no doubt have me balled up and crying in a corner for a month.

    On a positive note, I’ve never missed a deadline and have been known to stay up all night the day before a deadline, getting everything “just right.” I have earned the respect of some wonderful editors, and I know I could never just throw away the rulebook. Still, something about “The Renegade Writer” really intrigues me. Perhaps its my inner high school rebel, trying to get out and have a little fun again.

  14. 14 Heather Cook September 1, 2007 at 9:33 am

    OH I’m a rule follower in life. I just hate that sometimes. I’m so nervous to step a toe out of line.

    But it helps me in many ways. When I went to go find my agent, I followed every rule of hers to the letter. I also researched her and found articles she’s written about how to query her. I saw all those as rules… I ‘caught’ her on the first try and signed with her right away.

    I do try to think of rules as ‘guidelines’ … but just so I feel better about myself. Who wants to be a total Rule Follower anyways… those people are all boring!! (Not meaning any offense, I’m talking about myself here!)

    Now, I was raised by hippies and I ‘rebelled’ by going to church… so maybe that’s where my nature comes from. In my family, it’s rebellious to be a conservative and suggest that there might actually be black and white answers to things…

    The thing is… if you asked any of my friends, I think they’d label me as a rule breaker. Maybe it’s because now there aren’t supposed to be ‘rules’ in life… and I think there are.

    Way off topic… sorry…

    In writing I tend to follow the rules when it comes to things like submissions, style guides, research… but when it comes to my personal writing style, interviewing, themes… I will break anyone else’s rules to follow my own.

    In the end, I think that’s what we all do, we have our OWN rules and often you can be seen breaking rules when you are just “following your own guidelines”.

  15. 15 Kathleen Whitman Plucker September 1, 2007 at 10:06 am

    Well, I guess I’m a lot like my own kids on this one. Sometimes I follow the rules to a T, and at other times, I break them to see just how far I can get.

    Rules I adhere to have more to do with writing itself, as well as formatting and submitting manuscripts. I often wish I were a little less obsessed with correct sentence structure and grammar so that my writing could be more conversational and “everyday.”

    I’m a big believer in “the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” so I will break rules that involve interpersonal relationships. More specifically, I will approach a person that another writer might consider off-limits (such as a well-known author, an agent, potential interview subject), though I do so professionally and honestly.

  16. 16 Kelli September 1, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Though I believe this statement “Well behaved women seldom make history…” I tend to follow the rules.

    Following the rules has benefited me in that I read submission guidelines and try to follow them as my submission isn’t disregarded because it forgot to include something. I think “rule following” when submitting also creates a professionalism a writer needs.

    Do I ever break rules? Yes, in my own writing to take it to another level or to try something new. However as in all art, we need to know the rules before we break them.


  17. 17 Laura September 1, 2007 at 10:16 am

    I don’t read the instructions. I don’t balance my checkbook. I can’t put my hands on my homeowner’s insurance policy right this second and I don’t check my voice mail at home every day. But, I do believe in love at first sight. You guessed it. I write fantasy.

    Married at 22, for 21 years, I had my first baby at 23. This rule breaker started out with an accounting degree, dropped out of Art Center College of Design, painted sets in Hollywood, did freelance Product Design, broke my neck, did freelance Graphic Design then broke my foot. My passion for writing developed in three different non-walking casts.

    Not lacking for material, personal starts and stops have wrecked my “Mo” sometimes. This week I gave notice at my four-hour-commute-contract-staff design job to do off-site design and freelance writing, as well as wrap up four novels. A choice most people wouldn’t make with two kids in college. My motto has been: “You can do anything for a year.” This year I want to become a full-time freelance writer, finding an agent would be icing on the cake.

  18. 18 hope829 September 1, 2007 at 10:22 am

    My very first day of first grade, my foot slipped off the concrete pathway and stepped on the grass of the lawn where a statue of the Blessed Mother was standing. A huge nun in a flying black habit swooped down on me and told me I was a bad child for stepping on “Mary’s grass.” I was petrified; I was only six and the whole experience was scary enough without being labeled a troublemaker (particularly since I was a very eager-to-please typical firstborn). So, in my heart I held fast to the rules, but somehow life’s challenges didn’t allow me to stay on that path.

    It’s been the same with my writing. I started out with every intent to follow the rules and please ’em with my “by-the-book” obedience, but life has taught me that sticking to that path is often boring and sometimes we just need to let our feet slip off the path to get ahead. I’ve learned that there are many back doors to a career, and those who stand knocking out front may be left frustrated while those who slip in the back – “troublemakers” – are getting the attention – and the assignments.

  19. 19 Rose September 1, 2007 at 11:14 am

    Never and always are dangerous words. Rules can make us safe but they can sometimes make us sorry. What if…? I try to let my life and my writing answer the questions I am sometimes afraid to ask. Why not…? While walking through my neighborhood, if the light is red, I stop. If the light is green, I go. My movements become automatic. But if I take my eyes off the light and look around, I see and experience so much more that surrounds me. My writing becomes more authentic. New questions surface. Should I risk it? Should I go? What will happen? When I send my work out, I take a deep breath and then let go. I may be naïve. But I try to prove that Risk is not a four letter word. I have not been sorry yet.

  20. 20 Kristina September 1, 2007 at 11:34 am

    I am a rule follower! This can serve me well, as I usually manage to give editors what they’re looking for. But I’m sure it’s hindered me, too. I tend to be so afraid of being a pest, being thought stupid, or being thought a b*tch that I don’t open my mouth. This has lead to book covers I know could have been far better, pay rates that I probably could have increased, and editors thinking of me as a writer only appropriate for a certain type of piece. I certainly need to work on this!

  21. 21 Rebecca September 1, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    I usually follow most rules in life. I carefully keep under the speed limit and fill in all my forms on time.

    Until recently, the only things that I had written were academic papers. When writing these, I also carefully kept to the rules, as this increased the chances of them being published.

    I have just started to look into other types of writing and do not even know what the rules are! I thought I might learn some of them by entering these competitions.

    I have just carefully counted the number of words in my post to make sure it contains more than 50. I guess I might follow the rules of writing, just as soon as I find out what they are!

  22. 22 edna September 1, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    I’m a natural rule-breaker. I can’t help myself. When I was a kid, I hated coloring within the lines in coloring books, I disliked dressing in complimentary colors and I refused to hold my pencil the same way as everyone else. Over time, I learned to temper myself and follow directions so that I can fit in with the “team.” But, my mind is always bubbling with new and different ideas which I manage to jot down in sketch books and note pads.

    As a writer/illustrator, I do have a tendency to go my “own route.” But, lately, I notice that I’ve held myself back. Perhaps it’s because I don’t want to stand out as different. I want to be accepted. Hmm, now I’m analyzing myself. Did you know we would do this? lol

    Thanks for asking a pertinent question, Writer Mama. It’s given me something to think about today and the rest of my writing/illustrating life.


  23. 23 Melissa September 1, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    I’m a rule-breaker when writing. (Grammar– who needs it? Kidding…) But I’m a rule-follower when it comes to submissions, queries, and generally interacting with other people in any way. In fact, I tend to send work out and then become convinced I accidentally broke or overlooked some important rule. I probably spend more time checking submission guidelines after I send things than before, just to reassure myself that I did everything “by the book.” Hello, neurosis!

  24. 24 Sue Lick September 1, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    I think I’m rule follower, at least as long as the rules make sense. If an editor says no e-mail submissions, I don’t e-mail. If they say no dog stories, I don’t send a dog story. But sometimes the rules don’t make sense. Why not do multiple submissions for book proposals when it takes months to get a response and sometimes the agents and editors never respond? If a publisher gives up on my book, why not republish it the way I always wanted it to be, especially when people are still asking to buy it? But in general,I have enough OCD that I tend to do things in order and yes, obey the rules, all the while wondering if I should be following those folks who said screw the rules and broke out of the corral.

  25. 25 Margay September 1, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    I am usually a follow the rules kind of person in every aspect of my life. But, as I get older, I am starting to think that I have earned the right to break some of the rules every now and then – or at least bend the heck out of them! Margay

  26. 26 Judy Jackson September 1, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    I’m a rule bender – renegade is my mission statement. Gotta have rules to get anything done, otherwise there is chaos. BUT, by bending the rules everything works better. Rules are the basics, generalizations that cover the mundane, for those without creativity or bravery. To tweak and customize, personalize the plan of action for any endeavor, you have to bend the rules.

    I’ve had more than 100 articles published, never written a query or followed the rules, exactly. I don’t think I could.

  27. 27 Lea Schizas September 1, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    In some respects I can honestly say that I do break the rules. On my! But there are situations when this needs to be done. For instance, I submit my work to more than one publisher. Why? Because if I wait to submit one at a time, I’ll be over a hundread and one and probably two feet in the grave before I get a chance for publication. Publishing houses are inundated with submissions and I understand they cannot respond as quickly as I would like, so I need to send it out to more than one for a chance someone will read and answer earlier than my one hundredth birthday.

    I do follow their guidelines. This is one area I won’t step out of the boundary. As an editor who reads quite a few submissions, one thing that ticks me off is when you request only 2,000 word subs and you get 5,000. I guess some writers believe their work qualifies them to be read. Well, surprise…rejection, rejection, rejection.

    Breaking the rules is not a bad thing when you know WHEN to break them.

    Lea Schizas

  28. 28 Tammy September 1, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    Zen and the Art of Rule Breaking

    Most of my life I’ve been a rebel among rebels. Which, on the surface, puts me in the “follow the rules” category. When in reality, I see rules as tools for some purpose. If the rule doesn’t fulfill the goal I’m shooting for, it’s OK to break.

    If we think about the rules that we follow in our society, and in the writing community more specifically, most of them exist because that’s how things are done. That’s how people like things to be done. That’s what we’re used to. Convention is the mother of all rules. Catastrophe is the father.

    But all these rules and conventions exist for a reason – at one point in time, they served a purpose. And they still do. The question is, what purpose do they serve? And ultimately, does the rule apply to the current context?

    Rules are not inherently good because they exist. They aren’t inherently bad because someone put them there, either. They are there because they meet someone’s goals.

    So when it comes to rule breaking or following, I don’t follow rules blindly, or see them as the ultimate authority. I scrutinize each rule, looking at it from the current context, and then decide if that rule makes sense or not. If it does, I follow it. If it doesn’t, I question it and often do something different.

    Although I’m not an arbitrary rule follower, it seems to me that in most cases, the rules that exist in writing – both in the art of writing, and on the business end – are good rules. But like most rules, they can’t cover every single angle of a writer’s needs or target demographic’s needs.

    So I don’t see myself as a rule breaker or follower. I see myself as an opportunist. I do what works, when it works. Just because a rule exists, doesn’t mean it’s going to work for my current purpose. So I’m not afraid to try something new and different. On the other hand, rules exist for a reason, and that reason may be the exact thing I’m trying to get accomplished. In that case, I’m not afraid to stand up and say, “I’m following the rules here.”

    When it comes to the craft of writing, the more I know my own voice, the less I worry about whether I’m doing it “right” and following the rules. When it comes to the art of selling and promoting my work, it’s fair game to break any rule I need to in order to get the job done.

    Lastly, I have a set of my own rules. Some of them align with what’s in the books, and some of them don’t. My rules trump others’ rules. Because my rules, they involve my personal integrity. And I’m never willing to give that up for a rule, even if it gets the job done. That’s my rule. And it’s not good or bad. It just is.

  29. 29 nicolemarie September 1, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    Seeing how I’m one of the most risk-averse people I know, I’d have to say that I’m a bit of a rule follower. Okay, I’ll admit it; I’m a rule-following freak.

    While I’d really like to be a rule-breaker, or even a rule-bender, I just can’t seem to be that person. I often think that breaking the rules would force me to be more creative. And towing the line, I’m pretty sure, quashes my creative energy.

    I think it’s time for a change. Don’t you?

  30. 30 Tricia Grissom September 1, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    My first response was to say I’m a typical dutiful first child – following all the rules. But looking at my latest queries I realized I’m more of a recovering rule-follower; my queries are usually longer than a page. (I did still read the contest rules as Christina instructed – that’s the recovering part).

    I’ve realized there really are no hard rules. Personal preference figures into so much about the writing business that I do what feels comfortable to me – while still trying to adhere to the specific guidelines of the publication. I think when you use creativity to break the rules – a startling piece of figurative language or something you feel is edgy in your writing tone – it almost always pays off and helps get you the assignment.

    Tricia Grissom

  31. 31 Jenny from Chicago September 1, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    Curfew was something I never missed in high school. I would actually wake my parents up when I got home. I called my parents once and asked if I could stay out for an extra hour. They said, “uh, no”. I came right home. You could say I followed the rules to the letter.

    When I turned 32 I converted to Catholicism from my home religion of Missouri Synod Lutheran. It was my first act of rebellion. I think my parents would have preferred it if I’d missed curfew a few times. As Lutherans we knew exactly why we weren’t Catholic so it might have been the worst thing I could have done to them.

    Looking back with the mature eyes of a nearly 38-year-old, I see that perhaps I should have broken out of rule following a lot sooner. I would like to think that my kids aren’t as uptight as I was when I was their age. I hope they follow most of the rules but also hope that they feel confident enough in themselves to make decisions that sometimes means they color outside the lines.

  32. 32 Melissa Baldwin September 1, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    I grew up a Pastor’s kid so you can all safely assume that I am a rule-BREAKER! I am also the oldest child and I have always felt it was my duty to test each rule to make sure it was solid, logical, and benefitted moi.

    I think this has applied to my writing as well. In a college creative writing class I once used the phrase, “the stars sang” and when my paper was returned I found the phrase circled in the dreaded red ink with the comment that it was an invalid metaphor. Well, knowing I had heard the phrase before I diligently searched until I found it…in the BIBLE! Of course, this gave me just the ammunition I needed to contest my grade. I mean, if the inspired word of God used the phrase, who is my teacher to critique it?

    I think my writing rule breaking has also helped me create a natural voice. When people read my writing, they have told me that they feel as if they are actually talking with me. It sounds like me! I like that. I think I’ll keep breaking a few rules!

  33. 33 Rhianna Finnegan September 1, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    I am a rule follower, because when I follow the rules long enough, my payoff is I eventually get to make my own rules. For instance, if I write something more commercial, I get can a little more crazy, a little more irreverent, and risk a little more as I get more sucessful. Or that’s what I hope. Having not achieved any notable level of sucess, I can only speculate. I think every person has a little bit of both in them, though. It would stand to reason that everyone thinks some rules rock and some rules were made to be broken (like the one that says you can’t raise a writing career alongside your babies!!) You have to keep that part of yourself alive, right???

  34. 34 Shonna September 1, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    I like a good rule. If nothing else, rules give you something to follow…guidelines, direction, a sense of purpose, something to check off. My current favorites are: 1)kids go to their rooms for quiet time every day around 2:00 2)Mommy uses this time to write one chapter a week in her WIP novel.

  35. 35 CariJ September 1, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    Fear and insecurity are great motivators. As women and, I would assume if you’re posting here, moms, I think we (and by we, I mean me) are often a little hesitant to step outside whatever we think the norm is. In my opinion, that’s why when we go to a restaurant with friends, we ask everyone at the table what they are going to order. Fear and insecurity, even in subtle tones motivate us to do so. What if what I’m doing doesn’t jive with what everyone else is doing? What if I want steak and they are all having salad?

    Because I’m a new writer, the same principles seem to carry over into my writing. I ask myself what is and isn’t the norm. How does everyone else do it? What is everyone else having for lunch?

    This forces me to be a rule-keeper, at least the ones I know and understand in the world of writing and blogging. It doesn’t help that since I was young, the thoughts of getting caught doing something wrong mortified me. (There’s that fear thing again.) Even now, I do my best to keep the rules for fear that someone will think badly of me. I always wear my seat belt because I know for sure if I didn’t, and I died in a car accident, our small town newspaper would read, “The victim was not wearing a seatbelt.”

    I know, you’re saying to yourself, “I don’t know who this girl is, but she is in serious need of therapy.”

    You’re correct and I have an appointment next Thursday.

  36. 36 Karen September 1, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    I’m a by the book, don’t like getting in trouble, look in my rearview every time I pass a cop, hate being late for a flight, no late payments rule follower. Except when I’m not. It’s too soon to tell about my writing life. I recently went to a writing conference and was thoroughly convinced by a fabulous presenter that phoning an editor would only bring me sucess. I did. I not only didn’t sell the article, but by the tone of his voice, was put on his mental “weird–do no assign–ever” list. I’ve got to put a little more time behind me to try that one again.

  37. 37 Stephanie September 1, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    I would describe myself as a “thoughftul rule-follower” in most areas of my life. I generally will follow rules and guidelines, but not before carefully and consciously considering my actions. If the rules aren’t correct, then I will usually try to change them. I’ll write a letter, talk to the manager, start a fundraiser…I will actively move toward change. But I’ll follow the rules until then.

    In writing, I tend to follow the rules when it comes to marketing and publishing. I peruse books for tried-and-true methods, publishing tips, and advice from seasoned veterans in the field.

    But when it comes to writing, I’m less rigid about rules. For example, I rarely re-write again and again, even though many authors claim this is a key to good writing…

  38. 38 Kim Haynes September 1, 2007 at 9:30 pm

    I am by nature a rule follower, which I think both helps and hurts. It helps because I’m excellent at following instructions and submission guidelines. I’ve always excelled at pleasing authority figures, which I’m trusting will serve me in good stead with editors. (I’m brand new in my freelance career, so I don’t know for sure — yet.)

    On the other hand, I have to remember that my tendency to follow rules can limit me, because I’m too inclined to stick to “safe” and “correct” — both of which are false constructs in the world of writing.

    So I suppose I need to embrace the part of my rule following nature that helps me get freelance gigs, but hopefully not allow my tendency to stay on the straight and narrow to keep me from taking the risks necessary to building a good career!

  39. 39 k September 1, 2007 at 10:10 pm

    I always tell my creative writing students that they need to learn the rules before they can break them–in fact, they need to know them so they can know how to break them. As a writer, I think I’m too obsessed with rules and rule-following–or maybe I just don’t realize that I do understand the rules now, more than I did before, and there are some I can break. I need to take more risks with my work, to make my writing a better blend of work and play. Quite possibly I need to re-think what I tell my students.

  40. 40 Stephanie September 1, 2007 at 10:15 pm

    I had a conversation about this just this past week. A writer friend and I spent a week at a resort for a writing retreat. Walking back from the pool, she noticed I followed the sidewalks and didn’t cut across the landscaped areas. She remarked that it probably indicated I am a rule follower. I’m not sure I agree. I’m not even sure I like the suggestion. LOL But she has a point.
    I do like to know the rules. I particularly need to know and understand the reasoning behind the rules. That doesn’t mean I’ll obey them, but I don’t “break the rule” unnecessarily. For example, it certainly wasn’t harmful to walk across a few rock landscapes or parking lots to take the direct route to our room. I just found the “footpath” of flat stones through the landscaped area so we didn’t inadvertently scatter landscape rocks on the sidewalk. When it is appropriate and others aren’t negatively impacted unnecessarily or inappropriately, I’ll break the rules.
    How that relates to my writing will probably show up more in the future. I’m in the “learning the rules” mode at present. About the only thing I’ve done so far is to send, and have accepted, a completed article to a magazine that said they only wanted queries. I suppose that is one example of breaking the rules, albeit a tiny one.
    Oh, BTW . . . Shonna Slayton told me about this site. Great site.

  1. 1 Breaking or Following Rules Trackback on September 4, 2007 at 7:11 am
Comments are currently closed.

Christina Katz's Facebook profile

Whatcha lookin’ for?

September 2007
« Aug   Oct »

My Latest Flickr Photos

Top Clicks

  • None

Top Posts

Blog Stats

  • 187,322 Visitors

%d bloggers like this: