9 writing rules you should be breaking

You’re at your computer screen, stymied by the disapproving shades of Editors Past. Here’s how to overcome writing-block ghosts and verbose vice presidents to get that piece written.

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You are smart and capable, and very much prepared for your job.

Except for writing.

Somehow, the rules and ways you learned don’t work when you face a blank screen.

In grade school, you learned grammar and punctuation; those lessons are vague memories. In high school, you padded essays to meet minimum word counts; now your boss tells you to cut the fluff and get to the point. In college, you wrote papers according to MLA style; today you never write endnotes or citations. Along the way, if a person of authority said you were doing it wrong, you took their word for it.

Those people aren’t in charge any more. So when you sit down to craft that email, presentation, or proposal, give yourself a break. Let go of rules and ways that no longer serve you—or your reader.

Need permission? Take it from me:

1. You can start a sentence with “or,” “but” or “and.”

A grammar teacher told you never to do this. But you’re not in her classroom any more. Starting a sentence with a conjunction creates emphasis and rhythm, with a touch of surprise. Try it.

2. You can end a sentence with a preposition.

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