Is Your Creativity Law or Grace?

This question is everything.


Ryan J. Pelton

3 min read

brown wooden tool on white surface
brown wooden tool on white surface

Funny question to ask, right?

But I believe what destroys our writing and creative output is how we deal with Law versus Grace.

Is your creativity based on Grace or Law?

I happily share wisdom, inspiration, tips, and tricks on the writing craft on a weekly basis. Sometimes in the form of the written word (this blog), and in verbal form via my podcast.

I’ve been privileged and honored to interview some of the most prolific writers on the planet trying to gleam insight from their writing processes and experiences. It’s great fun and people seem to get something out of it.

I'm blessed to share what little I know on the writing craft, after publishing hundreds of articles, and fifteen books in the last ten years. It's great fun and a way to serve my fellow writers.

But often you see cracks in the pavement. Writers who began with great steam and enthusiasm fade away after a couple publishing disappointments. Maybe they start writing stuff they care nothing about chasing the Almighty Dollar.

This is why Law and Grace are important.

Most writers and creatives begin from a place of grace. They're happy to create and write. Not trying to prove anything. No expectations. Just excited to be called a writer. Excited to dictate the stories and ideas from their brains out of the their fingertips. A sense of child-like wonder in doing the work.

But like a marriage moving from grace to law something dies along the journey. The joy and grace of writing replaced with Law. Laws on how to do it, laws for reminders when we’re not doing it right, and a head full of laws, instead of hearts full of grace.

You read a couple books on writing and think: I need to do that. Good writers outline their work down to the bone, no wait, they write free as the Muse directs.

Good writers rewrite their work a dozen times, no wait, only a couple.

Law creeps into the writing room and we say: I need to write every day. Wait, I need breaks, wait I need to binge write, like I watch Netflix. Another Law settles in and says: show don’t tell, wait Lee Child says were story- tellers not story-show-ers, I’m confused, what is it?

What about those pesky adverbs, kill them all, or keep a few, what is a few? And yes, never use a semicolon, wait can we? Where does the comma go? What if I start a sentence with a verb? Will I go to jail? Are my sentences too long or too short, or should I mix it up? Can I ever use an exclamation point? Help…. Law, law, and more law.

Then we put on the marketer and publisher hat. Have a huge email newsletter list, and run ads on Facebook and Amazon, and go to conferences, get a fancy website, write only in one genre, and only put your books on Amazon, wait, sell wide, no wait, only sell directly to your fans, and forget the middle man. Be 70% marketer and 30% writer, no wait, I think I have those reversed. More law, and more law.

Has your writing shifted from Grace to Law? What can we do? Is there hope?

Get Back to First Loves

Think about your writing like a marriage. When someone comes to me because their marriage is on life support. I don’t give them more laws and how-to’s.

I bring them back to their first love. When their marriage was pure, new, and innocent. When the couple put up with differences, disagreements, and were learning how to love each other despite their faults, because of strong love and abiding grace.

Marriages go bad when grace replaced with law. Love replaced with duty. When expectations, rules, and laws drive the relationship, nothing can repair it, except… grace.

Writing goes bad when grace is replaced with law. When writing becomes a chore and a job… law has crept in. Rules have become the primary driver and the creative energy and joy of making stuff sucked dry. Grace gone.

When you feel paralyzed to write for fear of breaking some Cosmic Rule of Writing, law, not grace.

When law is winning don’t search out another book on writing. Just write. Go to the page for the sake of grace and love. Forget about results and efficiency. Who cares what some writer guy or gal says.

Who cares what I say...

Who cares if you hit a certain word count. Write for you.

Laws, principles, tips, and structures can have their place.


When grace is replaced by law, you'll write from the head, and not the heart, not the guts. You'll write from expectations of others and not for the joy of it.

When grace is replaced with law you'll write for publishers, agents, family, and fans. Not from the truest place of honesty and integrity.

I will keep sharing writing advice not as law. Rather… it could work, maybe, it might not, who cares, just write.

This is grace.