Obstacle #4: Conventions & Norms

Happy Friday! (For me at least…) And look, a month’s worth of Obstacle posts! I guess that means it is a series, and I already have next week’s topic! Funny how I keep inspiring myself by writing these out…

Today’s topic: conventions, aka ‘rules’ and norms of writing.

I was talking with a friend (hi!) about writing, and her thoughts about conventions really made me heave a sigh of relief. Although she might feel a little more strongly than I do about conventions and rules of writing, we both agree that they are stupid. (Ok maybe aside from when you’re just starting and need a few pointers until you get the gist and find your own voice/style/etc.)

But then I find things like this: “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” – Pablo Picasso

And then I’m really confused. I mean, he has a point, but I might just apply that to the language rather than the writing. Writing is so subjective, how can anything be “normal?” I mean, in general if people say I’m weird (which I am and damn proud of it, and come on, show me someone who isn’t), I usually answer with a variant of “normal is boring, but what does ‘normal’ even mean?”

Sure there are rules about writing, for essays you need an introduction, a thesis, a concluding sentence, blahblahblah. And that’s fine, it’s academic writing. There are probably some rules I don’t know about for other forms of writing I’m not really familiar with, and I guess that’s ok?

But having rules about writing fiction, or creating characters, or developing a story, or everything and anything in between seems stupid. Isn’t the point of writing fiction to create your own world, your own story? And if no one’s normal, how can the writing rules expect a one-size-fits-all format?

Maybe it’s just me trying to justify my non-adherence to rules or ways of writing, but I do wonder how many writers out there feel the same way. I don’t feel like a “normal” writer based on things I’ve read, courses I’ve taken, or from talking to other writers. But is there such a thing as a “normal” writer? I say not really.

Writing in its entirety comes from all our experiences (good and sometimes much less so) which directly affect our view of our environment, friends, the world not to mention ourselves. And we all know nobody has the same experiences. We could watch the new Game of Thrones episode at the same time, in the same environment, but our experience of it would still be vastly different. Those differences make our writing stand apart, they make us stand apart. It’s a good thing we don’t experience the exact same thing, how crazy boring would that be if everyone was expected to get the same reaction? Might as well take creativity out the back and shoot it dead.

Anyway, I’m rambling, but– my thoughts in a nutshell about conventions for writing (don’t even get me started about other ones).

So tell me! Do you stick to conventions/rules/established way of doings thing or do you dare to try new things? Would you attempt to balance both, and if so 50-50, 70-30, or what? Or are you the epitome of a daredevil and take risks even at the sound of everyone screaming at you to stop?

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