There Are No Rules

Colum McCann > Letters to Young Writers > There Are No Rules

There are no rules. Or if there are any rules, they are only there to be broken. Embrace these contradictions. As a writer you must be prepared to hold two opposing ideas in the palm of your hand at the same time. To hell with grammar, but only if you know the grammar first. To hell with formality, but only if you have learned what it means to be formal. It is a crafty, sullen art. You must break the rules to remake them. But remember this: the great ones break the rules on purpose. And they keep unsaying what they once said, breaking their own rules over and over again.