Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Give yourself permission to suck!
I don't generally do "advice for writers" on this blog because most good writing advice is common sense stuff that's been said a thousand times before and usually by people who are more entertaining about it than I am. But recently on Facebook, somebody asked me about writer's block.
I don't believe in a mysterious force that "blocks" anyone from writing, but I do believe we can be haunted by our own self-doubt, resulting in bad thoughts that keep us from writing. I mean, if you're sitting there, typing away at your great American novel, and suddenly you're thinking, "Hey, this is a steaming pile of yak crap" then that's probably going to make you not write so much. It is an understandable human urge to STOP producing yak crap. Who wants to be responsible for that? Yaks maybe. Not authors.
So maybe you're thinking the solution is to get over it and somehow find some confidence that you really are a good writer and once you find this confidence, you can keep writing and joy will return to fill your heart with joy juice.
Welcome to WRONGTOWN. Population: YOU!
The solution is to go ahead and be the shittiest writer you can be. Oh, I don't mean you should go out of your way to write badly. You don't want to end up like Emerson LaSalle. I simply mean to give yourself permission to be bad. Just write, let the words come out. They don't have to be good. You can come back later and make them goodlier. That you'll need to revise is hardly an industry secret, but few rookie writers have had it put to them exactly like this: Go ahead and suck. We won't call you on it. We won't even know. Call it draft zero. So when you think, "Wow, I am sucking at light speed" don't sweat it. You have permission.
Will this work for every writer all the time? No. Nothing does.