Whenever a fellow writer tells you there are specific rules to follow, and that under no circumstances can you break them, or you will be banned forever from the writing world, and forced to join a religious cult to keep your alienated existence on life support, you can rest assured that they are full of shit. Writers break rules all the time. It’s as much a part of our existence as eating, sleeping, and breathing. You don’t need quotation marks if you’re Cormac McCarthy; you don’t even need to be a particularly good writer if you can pull Fifty Shades of Grey or Twilight out of your bunghole and wholeheartedly connect with your intended audience; you don’t need to adhere to Point of View (POV) if you’re J.K. Rowling; you don’t need stellar character development if you’re John Grisham…and I could go on, but you get the general idea.
What you do need, though, is an unprecedented passion for the craft, and a strong willingness to write every day, or if not daily, at least regularly. Wait, you don’t need a regular writing routine either, if you’re Thomas Harris or Wally Lamb or George R.R. Martin. Crap! But you do need to read often and regularly and across multiple genres, since reading the voices of others helps you find and perfect your own voice. It’s also a great way to start the karma train moving in your direction, so it doesn’t pass you by, and move on to the next stop or town. And it’s not really stealing if you pull bits and pieces from yourself, those around you, and little snippets from everywhere you go. Eavesdropping on conversations is no longer frowned upon. In fact, it’s highly encouraged, and when the questionable looks float your way, your response is simple: “I’m a writer.” And the person will nod in solemn solidarity, understanding with absolute certainty your struggle and strife to eke out a living in a world filled with books and attention spans that often resemble the insect community.