06 October 2012

Perfection Not Required

Sometimes, all the advice in the world won’t get you past your writer’s block.

Why? Because the writer’s block isn’t caused by a difficulty in the idea or a problem with time.

This new writer’s block is mental. I don’t mean cuckoo house mental, but I do mean it is something within your mind.

How often does the sentence not read right? How often can you not find the right words?

A first draft is not expected to come out perfect. Problems will exist. No writer will produce pristine copy on their first attempt, no matter what anyone says.

It’s not that we don’t try! However, sometimes, just putting words on page is more important than making sure not to repeat “suit” every sentence when referring to a man in black. When you write, allow for the not quite right word. Put the sentence down that has initially entered your pen or fingers.

First drafts are expected to be messy. A bit of writing advice I received once said to just write, don’t worry if you meander away from your plot. That’s what the second draft is for: bringing focus to the work. Sometimes, allowing the mess to form allows the writer to find that “Oh WOW!” character or moment that they didn’t expect. That is the big plus of just writing. This isn’t to say you can’t do this with an outline. But don’t make the need to follow the outline so stiff and structured that it freezes your fingers (or pen) and prevents you from moving forward with the story.

The nice thing about writing is we have the power to change things before they become permanent with a publication. Unlike the old days where a misplaced word required a complete retype of a page, or even the entire document, writing can change and move and dance on the page. We don’t have a solidified piece until we send it to a publisher or agent. Computers have made that ability to change even easier than our earlier counterparts who had just typewriters – or just pen and paper – to do as we do now.

So consider how the digital age has advanced our job.

And remember, you can always go back and fix it later.

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