I’m Not An #Expert on Anything – I’m a #Writer – No Rules Required

For my blog stop, I’ve chosen a previous blog which I felt is timeless and that expresses who I am as a writer, completely. 

I hope you enjoy it!


And that’s good enough for me.

I tell stories. I have a few awards so I suppose that means I don’t suck at writing. However, even with six novels and a novella to my credit, as well as hundreds of blog posts, I do not nor would I ever call myself an expert in anything. Nor would I dare to offer advice on the best way to do this or that, simply based on my own experience. I worked hard and I wrote from my heart, soul and gut. I was published. I went from being a writer to an author in the span of less than a year. How did I do it?

I wrote. I focused on my goals and did it my own way. That’s exactly how you should do it too; regardless of what your own way is. Just please, the only rule I stand by 100% is EDITING. If you are transitioning from writer to author and actually publishing a novel, pay someone to edit for you. Please, for all our sake’s.

Every situation is different. I’ve made mistakes but I’ve learned from each and every one; some bigger lessons than others. Regardless of what writing technique you use or formula you choose to follow, if you don’t approach that formula with a positive attitude and maintain the ground rules firmly at the heart of it with honesty and humility, you can really end up unhappy with the results of your work. Try it your own way first! Experiment! You may be creating a formula that only works for you and that’s perfect!

Every time I begin a new project that will hopefully evolve into a novel, my knees knock, my mouth waters, my heart races and hands tremble. That my friends is fear – fear I’ll write fifty thousand words and suddenly decide I’m unhappy with the story. Fear that my loyal readers will not like the behavior of my characters and even my main character. Fear that a beloved character may die a horrible death and my readers will wish the same for me…figuratively of course.

NEWS FLASH: Readers will love your story and readers will hate your story and it really has nothing to do with you. How they feel is about their own taste and that’s fine. 🙂 That’s how it should be! 

  • Do you outline your book?
  • What kind outline? Detailed or more like a guideline? 
  • Do you just let your characters lead the way and pray they aren’t taking you down the rabbit hole?

I would never presume to tell anyone what is right and what is wrong with how they approach a project. Doing what you are comfortable with and what you see as a plan and system you can live with and work well with is to me, far more important than following some text book guideline laid down by someone or someones who think they are the expert.

I’m not an expert on anything – I’m a writer. I ONLY want to be a writer when I write. I don’t want to offer you advice, let you cry on my shoulder and most importantly, I won’t tell you how you should do anything. My experience is mine. Go get yours. Don’t be be afraid to spread your wings and fly!

“On giving writers advice, offering “rules.” I’m asked a lot about this, and people bring great lists of rules for writers to the page all the time. What do I think? I can’t say it loud enough. There are NO RULES for all writers! And never let anyone tell you that there are. Writers are individuals; we each do it in our own way. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re not a “real” writer because you don’t follow their rules! I can’t tell you how much harm was done to me early in life by others judging me in that way. I was told in college I wasn’t a “real” writer because I composed on a typewriter; I was condemned later on in damn near apocalyptic terms for “not writing every day.” “Real writers” are those who become “real writers.” That’s all there is to it. And again, we each do it in our own way. For me, stubbornness has been as important as any talent I might possess. I ultimately ignored the people who condemned me, ridiculed me and sought to discourage me. I laughed or cried over it in secret; and went right on writing what I wanted to write, the way I wanted to write it. I knew of no other way to become the writer of my dreams. If you want to be a writer, go for it. Critics are a dime a dozen, and people who would love to see you fail are everywhere. Just keep on going; keep doing what works for you. Keep believing in yourself.” ANNE RICE

I’d listen to this woman before I’d listen to anyone else. She’s 100% right.

69 thoughts on “I’m Not An #Expert on Anything – I’m a #Writer – No Rules Required

  1. Well, thank you for this. It’s about how I feel and not just on writing. We need to do things in our own manner, not become carbon copies of someone else. We are all individuals and that is the beauty of it. Although there is nothing wrong from learning different ways in doing something from other people, we must each follow what works best for us.

    • Thank you Sarina. As writers and authors, we are bombarded with rules, techniques, guidelines and the like. Who makes these people experts on how we should tell a story? We are our own experts. As you said, we must each follow what works for us. I remember the day Anne posted this on her Facebook page and I was almost in tears. I kept asking myself if I was doing things wrong and when I saw this, it was as if the sun came out on a rainy day! My writing began to flow and I no longer cared or obeyed any rules about anything to do with writing except those very basic principles at the heart of a good story. The main guideline being perspective. I head hopped. I have since learned how confusing that can be and have added the ability to not do that to my toolbox. Do what makes it work for you. Tying the writers hands with rules stifles the natural flow of creativity…in my book. 😉

  2. I agree there are too many rules. I am not a rule book fan. There are some very bad writers out there though, you can’t disagree with that.

    I’m never going to disagree with your comment about editing, but recently, I’m getting more requests for professional ie paid-for, beta-reading. I suppose it’s a totally objective view, and people know what they are getting that will be delivered. A cheap MS appraisal? Maybe. Not an edit, but guidance what to look at.

    People are looking for one or two skilled beta readers, invariably editors, who will deliver a report within a timescale.

    I’m digessing, sorry, but your post made me wonder if I see a new different trend.

    Still agree, there are no experts.

  3. It’s so good to hear someone being so passionate about being true to herself. I attend a brilliant writing course & have great respect for our tutor, however I don’t always agree with her ‘rules’ & believe that’s the way it should be. There is no ‘one way’ in any aspect of life. I agree with Anne Rice about doing what feels right. If you need to write, purely for the money, by all means follow what is expected, however if you write from the heart then you have to do what feels right. I have yet to be published but would prefer to remain that way & enjoy my writing, rather than conform to someone elses rules!

  4. Pingback: I’m Not An #Expert on Anything – I’m a #Writer – No Rules Required | Shana Chartier-Author of things, like this blog!

  5. Great post. I received a comment on my writing yesterday where someone asked me where I learned to write so well in third person. This freaked me out, because I just write. I hadn’t thought about it until then.

    • See?! What’s meant to be is meant to be. Covering natural talent with rules can only stifle and suffocate the creative process. Yes, we all need to know our punctuation and grammar but punctuation never had me on the edge of my seat or made me cry…well, except on Facebook when I read some posts! LOL

  6. Great post, PS! I couldn’t agree more with the editing stuff, and not worrying at the creating stage. All that other stuff can come later. First of all, just write! Otherwise, we can choke that creative flow. Best of luck with everything 🙂

  7. I think the rule you stick by is one of the most important rules in fiction. Self-editing doesn’t work. You need a fresh set of (experienced) eyes. Great point, and great post. Best wishes.

    • I cannot imagine not having both an editor and a proof reader. They are worth every penny when you find the right one. I’ve been so fortunate to have the same editor throughout my Razor’s Adventure series. She knows my characters almost as well as I do. She knows the stories, personalities and little quirks that make them all unique. You just can’t put a price on that level of confidence.

      Thanks so much!

  8. What an awesome post P.S.! I completely agree with you about editing. I learned the hard way with that! I loved the Ann Rice quotes!

  9. Hi P.S., I had to check my reviews to remember you. I first read your “Ivory Dawn,” and after that, I just had to know what happened to those ladies, so I went ahead and read “Demons & Pearls” too. I enjoyed both books. 😀 Congrats with your party, and have fun.

  10. Hi Ms. Bartlett, I don’t believe I’ve seen you around, but you’re definitely a lady I’m going to remember. I learned the hard way about editing. Not just editing, but getting better editors. They all are not created equal. And yes, yes, yes, don’t let others tell you what and how to write. Listen to improve, but do your own thing. Always write from your heart. Great post and great advice. Thanks for joining the Party.

  11. Visiting from the RRBC Block Party. Very encouraging post and I agree with you 100%. Each person is different and we should write in the manner that works best for us. I listened too many years to what others thought I should write. It was only when I began to fulfill my heart’s desire to write fiction that I truly became happy as a writer.

  12. “Critics are a dime a dozen, and people who would love to see you fail are everywhere. Just keep on going; keep doing what works for you. Keep believing in yourself.” ANNE RICE An amazing quote by one hell of a writer. Terrific post! Bravo.

  13. I’ve gone through years of “follow the rules” mantra. I’ve been a panzer and an outlineist (I made that word up in defiance of rules) We all need a clear picture of where our plots are going, but sometimes our characters just take over and the plot turns to a different path at the crossroads.
    I totally agree with you on editing though. I recently submitted something that I hadn’t fully edited, and I was embarrassed beyond belief when I got the rejection and the corrections. So, no matter what path to a story you take–edit, edit, edit.

    • When I wrote my first novel, I didn’t even know there were rules and I’m being completely serious. I just sat down and wrote whatever came out of my imagination. I did hours upon hours of historical research for FIREFLIES but the writing part was mostly by the seat of my pants and a very loose outline. I was afraid to tell anyone how I had written for fear they’d tell me I was ass-backwards lol Then I read this: https://www.amazon.com/Writing-Memoir-Craft-Stephen-King-ebook/dp/B000FC0SIM and said to hell with what anyone else does. THIS is me and I have to do it my way…and find a great editor lol

      Thanks so much!

  14. Hi PS – nice post! Writing is so individual a craft – like any art the ‘rules’ are just the foundation – knowing when to bend or break a rule is what makes art – ART – Have fun on your blog day – MIkeL

    • You are so right, Mike. I apply the same principles to my drawing and painting. It isn’t coloring outside of the lines but rather drawing your own lines that makes you an original. 😉

  15. Fantastic post, P.S. I love the Anne Rice quote. I outline my stories, though there are scenes that come about simply because the character(s) decided to stray and do their own thing! Thanks for sharing. Best wishes to you on your block party stop!

  16. Great post, P.S. I loved the quote by Anne Rice and your accompanying story. And, I’m happy to meet you through this Book and Blog party – and look forward to reading your books!

  17. Thanks for talking to us, P.S. I can feel your drive, that determination to find your own path through the clutter and distraction and, gasp, expectations of others. I’ve been supporting you with graphics and tweets and word of mouth (and you’re not on my RRBC TST list, so it’s out of admiration for your work and you!). Keep at it. I’ll stand off to the side and growl like a pirate and shout, “Go, P.S.! Go!”

  18. Fabulous post! You made many great points. I do try to write for myself, the type of book that I would want to read (which is rarely what’s trending and selling). I’ve also come to the conclusion that I can’t please every reader, and that some will like the end result of my work and others won’t. A reality for the field I’ve chosen.

    So glad you shared this post for the RRBC Block Party. I’m sure it has inspired all who visited your blog!

    • Thank you Mae. I can definitely identify with writing what isn’t popular. Writing historical fiction that is not primarily a romance puts my work far down the list of interests. Fortunately, I’ve never been worried about being popular as much as I’ve worried about being authentic. Sounds like we went to the same school of thought. 🙂

  19. Thanks for reposting this for the Block Party. It’s great to see others have a similar philosophy when it comes to writing.

  20. Its nice to meet you P.S. Bartlett. I can appreciate your thoughts on what a writer should or should not be. I’ve had my own conflicts on the subject as I’m sure every writer has. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you, Shirley. As they say, “The struggle is real!” but once we realize what works best for each of us, the words come more easily and the creativity weaves seamlessly through them.

  21. Couldn’t agree more with these thoughts. If you force yourself into the ‘proper’ mould then you weaken yourself and your voice. Far better to stick to your gut and put your faith in a great editor to pick up on any huge boo-boos.
    Whenever I edit for somebody (never for myself though – that’s just silly) I always look for ‘mechanical’ errors over stylistic issues. Those should always be the writer’s call and tinkering with them will take more away than correcting grammar and typos, because you risk watering down the flavour of the mix.
    Best wishes PS – I enjoyed this stop, even if I’m late to the table! 😀

  22. Everyone definitely has to find their own path. And there are no rules that fit everyone. I tell people to forget the rules and just write. The rest can be figured out afterwards. 🙂 Good advice.

  23. I am really late to this party…but I still feel I have to comment. You have some great advice here and Ann Rice is absolutely right. There are NO RULES when it comes to writing. I learned that years ago. Wonderful post!

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