Developing a Writer’s Creed


A couple years ago I attended a program hosted by our local Writers’ Club. In the course of the author’s presentation he casually mentioned that he did not include violence to children in his writing. It was a standard he had set for himself, and he maintained that line. It was not the primary thrust of his speech or even a point within it, just something he mentioned in the course of his talk. It stuck with me.

I started a list on a sheet of legal pad paper of the guidelines I would set for my own writing. I unceremoniously dubbed it my Writing Creed. At the time I didn’t have any specific projects in progress or even a clear idea of what my writing might eventually look like – most days I still don’t. I have flipped past the page many times and moved on to other writing pads, but it is etched in my mind.

My Creed includes disciplines related to my writing time (not taking on freelance work that interferes with my primary focus right now of raising two small girls), it includes guidelines for what I will and will not include in my writing (not pursuing essays in NF that would be hurtful to friends or family – even if it means not publishing a good story), and a line about not using dishonest or suggestive marketing strategies for publicizing my work. It has two big questions at the bottom that I have yet to clearly answer that are related to my social media brand. I may relegate the Creed to a perpetual Work-In-Progress category, but the intent of it is unchanged. The content may occasionally receive some additions, but nothing has been deleted.

Do you have any lines you won’t cross in your writing or guidelines that you’ve established to monitor your work? Any ethical standards that you strictly adhere to? What considerations do you make for your social media image?

4 Responses to “Developing a Writer’s Creed”

  1. Carrie Rubin

    One goal I try to do with my writing is to create strong female characters. I read enough books where the women seem to be afterthoughts or stereotypes. I don’t want to add more to the pile. As for a line I won’t cross–I don’t think I could write violence against children or sexual violence, not in detail anyway. I don’t want to read it so by default, I don’t want to write it either.

  2. RebeccaV

    I love that goal! I’ve found myself more critical of female protagonists as I read more and as I have 2 girls coming up through the ranks! I’ll certainly pass on The Seneca Scourge to them 🙂

  3. sfkeefer

    I like this whole concept! I don’t have a writer’s creed yet, at least not one that I am consciously aware of. I do have limits on using story lines that are based – even loosely – on people I know, but I haven’t sat down and really fleshed out my do’s and don’t’s. I need to do this…

  4. rslavoie

    This is a great idea! I don’t have a firm creed established either but the idea of setting some type of framework for my writing in regards to topics and morals and where I do or do not want to take my writing is excellent– thanks for sharing!


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