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Giving Yourself Permission to Suuuuuuuuuck.....

I've given a writer friend a few pep talks lately. They weren't anything too dramatic, just a bit of:
---it's okay to ignore your internal editor for awhile.
---it's natural to feel like everything you write is horrible.
---it's fine to have bad days.

Most were directed toward his insecurities, which, not surprisingly, mirrored my own. And, since those conversations, I've taken some time to reflect on what we talked about, musing on just who I was trying to pump up more-- him or me.

There's something about trying to encourage someone else that makes inspiring thoughts stick with oneself. It's like, you've taken in all this information meant to promote your own thoughts of well-being and creativity, but it isn't until you've tried passing on the digested motivation that the wisdom finally sticks.

And, there's a lot of motivation out there, some inspiring, some ass-kicking, some even intended to make you buck-up (because how could you let yourself be so pathetic). It depends on the motivation you respond to--

"You can't edit a blank page."
"You can't write your first sentence until you've written your last sentence."
"Words don't bleed, cut them."
"You have to kill your darlings."

All great quotes for making you put pen to paper/fingers to keyboard. But, in the last few months, I've started taking those --- Get your words down so you can create your masterpiece--- ideas and have moved one step farther to --- Get everything down, including the crap that makes you cringe--- perhaps, especially the crap that makes you cringe.

I've come to the realization that, over the years, I've wasted hours/days of valuable writing time (and subsequently, thousands of valuable words) stuck in the dreadful every-word-must-be-perfect-before-I-can-start-a-new-sentence loop. It's perhaps the most crippling position a writer can be in, even the agony of not writing for days is far more bearable than the state of paralyzed panic that comes with the expectation that EVERY word must be perfect.

So, I'm endeavoring to put a stop, or at least some restraining force, to the amount of time I spend agonizing during the first draft of anything.

And, I've decided to lead my writing sessions with a mongrel version of Faulkner's killing your darlings quote--- There's no point in prettying up your darlings first thing in morning, if you're just gonna kill 'em that night...

.... that is, unless you're one of those "special" killers who need the scene staged perfectly and everyone's clothes freshly laundered----but, that's something for another blog-post entirely.

So, perhaps, I can let go of the idea that every sentence spewed has to be insightful...and every thought I have, Pulitzer-worthy. It's enough that I actually have the thoughts. Everything else will come with time. Right?


  1. Right. Absolutely, 100% right. Yep, that every-word-must-be-perfect state is the worst form of polio of the writer mind. That's why I love NaNo--spew it out, people. Let that river of crap *flow*--because when the pressure is on word count (sprints are a great tangible example) instead of word perfection, you're quite literally forced to spew, well, crap. And it's OH-KAY. More than okay, actually; it's great, and it's liberating.

    And about pep talks... Yep. "You teach best what you most need to learn," from Richard Bach's Illusions--great book.

    1. I agree about NaNo.... I think, whole-heartedly, it's one of the reasons I feel free to suck now. I needed that affirmation that the world wouldn't implode just because I wrote pages and pages of crap. It was a revelation and a relief!

      And, Richard Bach nailed it in one....

  2. This is a timely post for me - I've been paralyzed for a week, stuck at 17000 words because I don't know which way to go, 2 chapters might suck, I have a good ending but a huge gap to fill in the middle, etc. etc. So maybe I'll just write some quick and crappy fill-in chapters and then see what happens. Or maybe I'll drink a Coke and binge watch Hoarders. At least my house is clean. Sigh. :-)

    1. Boy, do I understand being paralyzed.... but, yeah, write those crappy fill-ins and THEN go watch Hoarders---- I guarantee you everything will look better after that, lol !!!

      Good luck! :-D

  3. A most interesting and thought provoking post.
    I am Yvonne Lewis, one of Arlee Bird;s Amassadors for the A to Z Challenge.
    I appreciate it's only February but the weeks do fly by.
    I look forward to visit you during the challenge.

    1. Thanks, Yvonne!
      And, yes, I can't wait until April!


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