When I was first getting serious about writing, I looked at many of the writer’s help sites floating around on the internet. During one of these forays, I ran across a quote that I thought was particularly applicable to me. I can’t remember the exact wording or who said it, but the gist was that any writer who wants to be successful must first overcome his hatred of his own work.
That message still resonates with me. My problem (as almost everyone here knows) is that I am a perpetual editor, which essentially keeps me trapped in the words I’ve already written rather than free to explore the plot elements that are still running around in my head. It means I can’t move forward, and it makes me obsess over every flaw, which doesn’t do much for my confidence in my own abilities. I’ve gotten to the point now where I have an almost visceral aversive reaction to sitting down and trying to write, and so I avoid it. I still love my story, but I feel as if I’m failing it – I’m not a good enough writer yet to tell it the way it needs to be told.
Intellectually I know that everyone is bad at first, and that practice is the only way to overcome that. You can’t get that practice if you’re continually stuck in the same place. I try to move on, but I find myself obsessing about the flaws in the earlier points of the story so much that it’s impossible – I just can’t focus on the current chapter without going back to the first. So the first has been re-written about thirty times, the second chapter a few times, and the third chapter is still in its infancy.
I’m finally at the point that I must do something different, because what I’ve been doing hasn’t been working. Brant volunteered to let me send him a set number of words each day, and he’d provide some quick editing and shoot it back to me. That way I could see if I was on target with what I was writing, and use that feedback to help guide my next day’s writing. I sent off my first email today, with my new beginning to the first chapter (this, incidentally, is the sixth different opening I’ve tried, and I haven’t liked any of them). I guess we’ll see how this works. Maybe being accountable to someone else will help me – it certainly worked with the gym!
So here’s my new resolution(s): I will write 250 words each day. I will not obsess over getting every detail perfect yet. I will allow myself to edit only for general content and clarity’s sake. I will not allow myself to obsess over word choice, pacing, timing, missing or incomplete transitions, vague feelings of dislike, or anything else that will hamper my ability to get the story down in its entirety. I will write, and I will do so until the book is complete.
So there they are, my new resolutions. Maybe I’ll even keep them this time.