Creativity as an Act of Defiance

We are making birds, not bird cages.

Get on that motorcycle in your mind and rev up the engine. Do a wheelie, burn some rubber, and write your story.

Then we have to go even one step further. Being a writer carries with it its own assortment of masks: What genre do you write in? Who are your favorite authors? Do you have an MFA? We have to ask ourselves who we are as writers — what rules do we want to follow, and what rules do we want to break? “Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others,” Virginia Woolf wrote in A Room of One’s Own.

There is an insurgency, an insurrection, within us all.

There’s nothing sacred about any narrative rule. Our art — the very way we tell stories — needs to challenge format, style, subject matter, and more. A creator needs to push against boundaries to take risks and innovate. There is an insurgency, an insurrection, within us all, so dare to ask impertinent questions. In fact, I think rebelling against the rules is actually an act of love and reverence for your voice. Pushing up against the supposed gatekeepers of taste can strengthen resolve.

Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month, co-founder of 100 Word Story, writer, tap dancer, alchemist, contortionist, numbskull, preacher.

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