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When is it right for writers to do wrong?

Call me a rebel, a rule-breaker or an iconoclast.

OK, don’t. As a career editor, I can be quite a stickler for grammatical standards and proper usage of the English language. Blame it on my parentage. My dad (bless his heart) still corrects me, if I mix up “can” and “may.”

Imagine this scene:

“Can I have some more juice, please?”

“Well, you certainly may, if you ask properly.”

Occasionally, exceptions can be excellent.

Sometimes, a little poetic license can go a long way. I’ve purposely penned mechanically incorrect phrasings and created contractions from words that were never meant to be melded.

Maybe you have intentionally crossed the boundaries of correct communications as well.

Call it creativity or art. Dub it distinctive disobedience. Just don’t try it with an editor.

When can writers break through boundaries without causing offense?

I’ve heard it said that it takes a certain level of expertise for a writer to know when to break the rules and when to stay inside the boundaries of correctness.

Perhaps true creativity demands a certain determined defiance, something akin to the rebellious attitude of a toddler in the middle of his “terrible twos” stage, peeking through a fence and wanting more than anything to break through to the other side.

Consider this witty explanation from writing guru William Safire, who made a professional career out of executive speechwriting, journalism and writing instruction. Heck, Safire won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006. Sometimes freedom applies to the words we write.
  • Do not put statements in the negative form.
  • And don't start sentences with a conjunction.
  • If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
  • Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
  • Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
  • De-accession euphemisms.
  • If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
(From: "Great Rules of Writing")

Now, get out there, and stick your own stamp on your poetry, prose, or other creative writing!

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Child at Fence photo by Tony Wills
 Creative Commons Licensing

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Sometimes a writing break means much more than R&R

Every writer needs a respite from wordsmithing now and then. We all run out of juice at some point and have to stop to refill our creative reservoirs.

This is not about that.

Sherry, my friend and writing colleague, is usually quite a productive publisher. She often writes about books, celebrities, food, entertainment, holidays, parenting, television and other hot topics. But she’s stepped away from covering these subjects for a few months.

Instead, she’s been blogging up a storm, encouraging other people through her own pain.

Sherry lost her five-year-old son yesterday after an 18-month battle with cancer. Logan’s life has become a light for many of us, even if we have not met him. This little strawberry-haired lad demonstrated dignity, joy and bravery in the middle of a beastly battle.

To honor Logan, Sherry has asked any and all to take a time out for fun. Play with your kids. If you don’t have children of your own, find something childlike and spunky to do today.

Dance in the kitchen. Make a snow angel. Toss a Frisbee with the dog. Blow some bubbles.

Crank up your favorite tunes, and sing in the car at the top of your lungs. You don’t have to sound like the late-great Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson. Just let ‘er rip.

Our poetic friend Pam is in, and so are many others.

In my house, we’re making heart cookies today, but they’re not for Valentine’s Day this time. They’re for Logan.

Then go tell Sherry what you did.

Give this sweet mom and her readers a reason to smile through the tears over the loss. Maybe Logan will somehow see all of us frolicking in weird ways today, as grownups turn into tots for a moment in his honor.

C’mon. You know you wanna.

Besides, you can always pick up your pen again tomorrow.

One more thing.

Please pray for Sherry and Adam and their other kids. Ask God to comfort those who mourn and equip them to go on another day.

Sherry writes a column about “Dancing with the Stars” on Yahoo! Voices. May God grant her a secret glimpse of her little Logan, as he gives that phrase a whole new meaning for a grieving mom.

Today, all of the links listed are articles penned by Sherry. Why not give her a read?

Yes, sometimes a writing break means a whole lot more than R&R. Today, you can take a rest, have a blast, and make it count.

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Snow Angel
Photo by Loadmaster
Creative Commons Licensing


Two Months Till the A to Z Blogging Challenge

Click graphic to sign up.
The A to Z Blogging Challenge starts April 1st.

Are you in?

Since 2010, bloggers have participated in this amazing alphabetical adventure, writing and publishing blog entries (from A to Z, of course) daily throughout the month of April.

No, this is not an April Fool’s prank.

We really do post daily for an entire month. OK, the alphabet only has 26 letters, so many A to Z Blogging Challenge participants take Sundays off.

It’s fun to play along, and the daily challenge offers wonderful motivation for writing.

Check out the A to Z Challenge Blog hosts for 2012:

There’s even Facebook page, email:, and Twitter hashtag: #AtoZChallenge. 

I took the challenge last year, and I’m ready to roll again in 2012!

Last year, I signed up and completed the entire challenge on all of these blogs:

This year, I’ve signed up for those blogs, plus these additional ones.

Whew! Who’s with me?

By the way, April also happens to be National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo), too.

If you are a poet,
even if you don’t know it,
here's your chance to show it!

How many bloggers join the A to Z Blogging Challenge?

The first year, 100 blogs took up the proverbial gauntlet. Last year, some 1,300 played along. What will the A to Z Blogging Challenge total be for 2012?

Take a look at all the participating blogs so far! Are you ready to add your own name to the list?

If you do sign up, be sure to add the A to Z Blogging Challenge graphic and link to your blog. Wanna play?

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