I saw this “No Soliciting” sign yesterday at a local business. It made me laugh and, come on, wouldn’t we all make the same exceptions? Chocolate is a little bit of heaven and Girl Scout cookies? Who could resist?

I loved this example of making exceptions. It can be easy to think in all blacks and whites, all yes or no, always ruling out the possibility of an exception to the rule, but who really can live like that? Who hasn’t needed an “unless” or to make an exception?

You could think, “I won’t publish a book any other way than with a major house”, but what about the possibility of a smaller press or trying your hand at going indie?

You could think, “I’ll never write anything but novels”, but what if there’s a short story living inside of you that needs to be told?

You could think, “I will not write a novel without having outlined every detail before putting a word on a page”, but what if you decide to try something wacky like pantsing your way through NaNoWriMo?

Unless we let ourselves make an exception to our own rules, we may never discover our own unknown possibilities. So maybe we should try changing our own limits.

Here are some of examples of times I’ve had an “unless”.

1). No writing poems, unless called by the spirit of a challenge. 😉

I never thought I would try writing poems, as I’ve said before, but accepting a challenge and pushing myself was a great experience for me. It was a pleasure to try something new and an excellent opportunity to play with language in a new way.

2) No outlining for me! Um, unless my story seems to be going off the rails and an outline will bring me back on track.

My current WIP has been flailing for a bit having reached a conclusion without having a complete cohesiveness. After struggling in the editing process (and yes being distracted by the “shiny” new things here and there), I started an outline of the current work to see where I really need to fill in gaps or remove pieces all together. I’ve also begun mapping the next books in the series rather than letting it emerge with no real direction, as I did with this first one.

3) (And probably the biggest one for me )
I won’t get anything ever written unless I make a commitment to myself.

Thus my 365 day challenge was born. I talked about writing a lot without commitment to do so. While maybe this first year of writing every day has been a learning process for what really gets me where I need to go, it has been a huge improvement from the scant amount of time committed to writing previously. I may have more bits and pieces than I had originally intended, but it’s been a big step in the right direction.

Do you have limits you have placed that might be opened to some exceptions? What will your “unless” be? Or do you have one you’ve already followed? What were the results of allowing the flexibility? Please do share in the comments.

Have a great week!