My One and Only Writing Rule (That Activates The Inner Author Archetype)

That activates the inner author archetype.

That activates the inner author archetype.

I only have one writing rule and it may seem a little strange. But I am a writer after all. It’s to be expected.

Honestly, I take slight issue with all these rules of writing and formulaic approaches to the craft. Yes, some are good to keep in mind. But if I worry too much about whether or not I am following the right formula, writing in the right genre, or hitting every supposedly required structural element of a story, I end up stifling my creative process.

When I approach writing I want to get my subconscious involved, I want to access the deep recesses of my psyche where the good stuff hides. If I’m super rigid about writing this is hard to do.

Yes, I believe we should write everyday and try to create a routine. But even this isn’t a hard and fast rule for me. Sometimes I need to walk away. In the space between words is often where I’ll receive insights about my story.

So, enough stalling. What’s my one writing rule?

No writing in pajamas.

That’s it. There’s a few reasons why I have this rule.

The obvious reason is that it helps me feel that I am treating writing as a job. It makes me feel a bit more connected to the human race. (Just a bit.)

But the main reason I have this rule, which might seem silly to others, is that dressing a certain way activates the “archetypal author” in my subconscious.

My grandmother was a world renowned concert harpist. She was an incredibly strong, successful, and graceful woman who always looked impeccable. As a child I was in awe of her enormous closet filled with elegant dresses and gowns. (Okay, even as an adult I was in awe.) She always said “It is not enough to be a harpist, one must also dress as a harpist.”


I guess that concept became engrained.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that to be a writer all one must do is dress as a writer! We must also do the work of writing. (And what does a writer dress like anyway? That archetypal image is personal to all of us. I bet it would be fun to compare. 🙂 )

What I am saying is that acting “as if” can have a powerful effect on our subconscious mind, allowing us to step more fully into that which we truly are.

This rule certainly isn’t for everyone. Maybe some write best in pajamas. When it comes to the creative process, we need to find what works for us. Even if what works seems totally weird to others.

Speaking of which, check out this fun book on this subject…  Page Fright: Foibles and Fetishes of Famous Writers

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  1. Tesh says

    That is a good principle, which can be very powerful. It reminds me of what I’ve heard a friend say: she dresses up and puts on makeup and perfume to sit university exams. After years of dressing up for dancing and drama performances, she finds that it helps her feel less stressed, prepared and ready to ‘perform’.

  2. says

    “Act as if”is the rule that I abide by, so I wholly agree with you. On the issue of pajamas I have to agree as well. Working from you home or working for yourself does not mean that it’s appropriate to be in pajamas all day. My mind really doesn’t understand what’s happening if I’m still in a nighty at lunch time. Writers are strange, but we don’t have to be ridiculous.

  3. says

    I remember in one of my psychology classes in University that we learned about a study where participants were asked to hold pencils in their mouths so that their lips were forced into a smile position. If I remember correctly, the results of the study showed that just by doing the physical act of smiling, the participants actually felt happier. Your advice to act “as if” you are a writer (or whatever it is you want to be) is spot on. It’s the first step to actually being that thing! Great advice 🙂

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