The hero isn't always the good guy, or girl.

I was talking to myself today. Oh yeah, I’m that kind of crazy. See, it’s my way of working through a problem, an emotional funk, or just plain fantasizing. I feel we all need a bit of good ol’ fantasizing once in a while.

In this conversation, I imagined what my reply would be to “What are the rules of writing?” (aka, what are YOUR rules, Calia, that you abide by in your author life.) And we’re only talking the craft and business, not life in general. That’s a MUCH longer post, trust me.

Rule one: Find you “why.”

I didn’t make this rule up. It came from Becca Syme. And, by proxy in a whole different context from Angela James. And a long time ago during a Maryland Romance Writers workshop – on find you brand essence. (Side note, I’d do a disservice to the master class session I took on writing your business creed… and I totally forgot who presented that course, but dang it was insightful. If I find the link I’ll add it on.)

The questions to ask in this are:

  • Why am I writing?
  • What is at the core of this feeling?
  • How does what I’m writing complete me?
  • How does it challenge me?
  • What do I gain emotionally or spiritually from this?
  • How is my WHY helping me become a better person?

All that, and make up your own questioning challenges to your why. Hone it, get it concise. Understand how it is an elemental part of you. Then

Rule two: PROTECT the “why”

I’m not saying go forth and be militant about converting the masses to your personal why. I’m saying find safeguards to cherish that why, wrap it in cotton and bundle it up in iron because in rule three, you’re going to discover that,

  • Not everyone understands your why – and that’s okay
  • Not everyone will LIKE your why – and that’s on them
  • Not everyone will AGREE with your why. I’d say that’s society’s problem, but there’s blurry lines in there somewhere. Obviously if your personal why is out to ruin, harm, manipulate, belittle, etc., someone more disadvantaged than you, my GOD, stop. Okay? But if your why isn’t harming anyone, doesn’t break laws, or if it challenges the law to make the law more fair for the disadvantaged, helpless, or meek, then DAMN IT – sign me up. I will strap on a lance and pitchfork and broil those mf-ers.
  • There are people out there who just want to take advantage of you. (see end of bullet point three, the world doesn’t need this type either.)

Rule three: Open yourself to ideas

And this is where you grow, work hard, get dinged, find out the armor you built in #2 above is too thin, and most importantly get the tools you need to make your why better, more coherent, beautiful in its own way. Unique. You find your author voice. You discover the writing tips, plotting, core wounds, emotional arcs, b-story, etc., and also business tips. (be wary of the advantage folks while doing this, they’ll cost you a lot of money, but there are genuine folks out there too who want to share their insights.) Find other authors. Discover your safe space to express your why and not be met with soul-crushing criticism. Discover understanding of other people’s whys.

In essence, this rule helps you become a strong, well-rounded, knowledgeable, and insightful author. Congratulations, your road is well paved!

Rule four: GIVE IT BACK

Oh, I’m not saying relinquish all your possessions or anything like that. I’m saying find ways you can creatively and effectivley, AND most importantly CARINGLY give back what you gained in #3 to new authors with their flimsly armor, and their unsteady whys.

Encourage others. Guide them to groups where they can find their safe space. It might not always be yours, but at least, in the very least, you found a way to help.


That’s all four rules.

My four rules for writing. I hope you enjoyed that. <3